About FEMA
Project Impact


Response and Recovery

Table of Contents
Basic Plan
Emergency Support Function Annexes
Recovery Function
Support Annexes
Incident Annexes
Figure Directory

Basic Plan

  1. Response and Recovery Actions

    Federal agencies are prepared to take a variety of actions to assist State and local governments in responding to and recovering from a major disaster.  These actions ó ranging from initial notification of a disaster to preparation of a final disaster after-action report ó are summarized below.  They are not necessarily in sequential order; some may be undertaken concurrently.  An overview of an entire disaster operation, indicating key operational components and the typical sequence of actions, appears in Appendix D.
    1. Initial Actions

      1. Notification

        1. Upon indication of an imminent or actual disaster, the State notifies the FEMA Regional Office through the MERS Operations Center 800 number.  The MOC then immediately notifies the NECC and FEMA regional staff in accordance with regional procedures.  If directed by the Regional Director, the MOC also notifies regional agency representatives.

        2. The NECC notifies key FEMA headquarters staff and other Federal agencies through their respective agency EOCs and/or designated individual(s).  An Advisory is issued to provide an early warning that a possible event being monitored may result in activation.  The Advisory is for information only and requires no formal action.  An Alert is issued when an imminent or actual event is likely to result in activation.  It puts Federal responders on notice that they need to be ready for immediate deployment.  An Activation directs immediate deployment to the location specified in the notice.  A Cancellation indicates that no further action is required or that an activation notification is being terminated.

        3. CDRG members may be notified to convene at FEMA Headquarters for an initial meeting, depending on the nature of the disaster.  CDRG members or alternates remain on call to meet at any time during the disaster response.

      2.  Activation

        1. The FEMA Regional Director deploys a FEMA State Liaison to the State EOC to provide advice on the declaration process and available Federal assistance, and also partially or fully activates the ROC staff, including regional agency representatives.

        2. With the support of ESFs, the ROC staff initially deploys members of the ERT-A, including damage assessment personnel, to State operating facilities and disaster sites to assess the impact of the situation, collect damage information, and determine requirements.  If regional resources appear to be overwhelmed or in an event having potentially significant consequences, FEMA Headquarters may deploy an ERT-N to coordinate the initial response.

        3. Meanwhile, if directed by FEMA Headquarters, the NECC informs ESF primary agencies of an EST activation and provides a time for each activated ESF to report to FEMA Headquarters, as part of the EST.  Primary agencies are responsible for activation of their support agencies if required.  Agencies may activate their headquarters EOCs to provide coordination and direction to their regional response elements in the field.

        4. The Regional Director processes the Governorís request for a Presidential declaration, which indicates the extent of damage and the types of Federal assistance required.  FEMA Headquarters then forwards the Governorís request to the White House, along with a recommended course of action.  Concurrent with a Presidential declaration of a major disaster or emergency and official appointment of an FCO, FEMA designates the types of assistance to be made available and the counties eligible to receive assistance.  The Regional Director appoints a Disaster Recovery Manager.

        5. The ROC and EST Logistics Section support the establishment of a DFO and mobilization center(s).  The ROC also coordinates Federal support of State requirements until the FCO assumes those responsibilities.  A Joint Information Center (JIC) may be established, as required, to provide a central point for coordinating emergency public information activities.

        6. The ERT-A/ERT-N coordinates damage assessment and selection of locations for field facilities with the State.  It also coordinates mission assignments for direct Federal assistance and procurement of goods and services with the Comptroller and ROC staff.  The ERT-A/ERT-N begins the transition to a partial or full ERT.

        7. ESFs act quickly to determine the impact of a disaster on their own capabilities and to identify, mobilize, and deploy resources to support response activities in the affected State.

        8. The EST begins interagency operations by supporting initial activation, mission assignment requirements, and ROC staff activities as needed.

    2. Continuing Actions

      1. Response Operations

        1. The ERT-A/ERT-N completes the transition to a full ERT by the addition of staff, including ESF representatives.

        2. Headed by the FCO and located at the DFO, the ERT assumes operational responsibility from the ROC staff for coordinating Federal disaster assistance in support of State-identified needs and priorities submitted by the SCO.

        3. The ESF representatives on the ERT coordinate Federal assistance under their respective ESF missions.  To the extent possible, they maintain contact with their State counterparts.

        4. At FEMA Headquarters, the EST provides financial, administrative, logistical, and operational support to the ERT and ROC as required, including coordinating the deployment of emergency teams and supplies.  The CDRG convenes as needed to address policy issues such as allocation of scarce Federal resources.

        5. Early in the response, the Deputy FCO for Mitigation plays a critical role in identifying mitigation opportunities and educating disaster workers on the merits of incorporating mitigation measures into response and recovery actions.

        6. Congressional affairs staff from FEMA and supporting agencies conduct briefings for Members of Congress and staff as appropriate.

        7. Working with other Federal and State environmental agencies, the Environmental Officer identifies environmental and historic resources that might require consideration under the law as response and recovery efforts are implemented.

        8. Once immediate response missions and lifesaving activities conclude, emergency teams are demobilized and the emphasis shifts from response to recovery operations.  The ERT Information and Planning Section develops a demobilization plan for the ERT during response operations.

      2. Recovery Operations

        1. The ERT Operations Section is the central coordination point among State and Federal agencies and voluntary organizations for delivering recovery assistance programs.  The Human Services and Infrastructure Support Branches of the Operations Section assess State and local recovery needs at the outset of the disaster and relevant time frames for program delivery.  The branches ensure that Federal agencies that might have appropriate recovery assistance programs are notified of the disaster and share relevant applicant and damage information with all involved agencies.

        2. In conjunction with the SCO, the FCO determines the need for DRCs in the disaster area.  State and Federal agencies staff the DRCs with knowledgeable officials who provide recovery program information, advice, counseling, and technical assistance related to mitigation.

        3. The Human Services Branch of the ERT coordinates assistance programs to help individuals, families, and businesses meet basic needs and return to self-sufficiency.  The branch also coordinates with voluntary organizations and may become involved in donations management.

        4. The Infrastructure Support Branch of the ERT coordinates assistance programs to aid State and local governments and eligible private nonprofit organizations to repair or replace damaged public facilities.

        5. The two branches assist in identifying appropriate agency assistance programs to meet applicant needs, synchronizing assistance delivery, and encouraging incorporation of mitigation measures where possible.  Additionally, they track overall progress of the recovery effort, particularly noting potential program deficiencies and problem areas.

        6. The Deputy FCO for Mitigation coordinates agency assessment of mitigation program needs and begins to match Federal and State resources to meet those needs.

      3. Stand-Down

      4. When a centralized Federal coordination presence is no longer required in the affected area, the ERT implements the demobilization plan to transfer responsibilities and close out the DFO.  Recovery assistance program oversight and monitoring then shifts back to individual agenciesí regional offices or headquarters.
      5. After-Action Report

      6. Following a disaster, the FCO submits an after-action report through the ERT Information and Planning Section to FEMA Headquarters detailing problems encountered and key issues affecting Federal performance.  Data from these issues and targeted reviews are analyzed and provided to appropriate FEMA management for consideration.  After a particularly large or unique disaster operation, FEMA also may convene an interagency forum to identify lessons learned.  Each Federal agency involved is encouraged to keep records of its activity to assist in preparing its own after-action report.
Updated: June 3, 1999