Appendix D - Overview of a Disaster Operation
In PDF format
This overview illustrates response and recovery actions Federal agencies
likely will take to help State and local governments that are overwhelmed
by a major disaster or emergency. Key operational components that
could be activated include the Regional Operations Center (ROC), Emergency
Response Team — Advance Element (ERT-A), National Emergency Response Team
(ERT-N), Emergency Support Team (EST), Emergency Response Team (ERT), Disaster
Field Office (DFO), Catastrophic Disaster Response Group (CDRG), and Disaster
Recovery Center (DRC).
Click here to view graphic representation
Updated: June 3, 1999
FEMA’s National Emergency Coordination Center continually monitors potential
disasters and emergencies. When advance warning is possible, FEMA
may deploy, and may direct Federal agencies to deploy liaison officers
and personnel to a State Emergency Operations Center to assess
the emerging situation. A ROC may be activated, fully or partially. Facilities,
such as mobilization centers, may be established to accommodate personnel,
equipment, and supplies.
Immediately after a disaster, local jurisdictions respond using available
resources and notify State response elements. As information emerges,
they also assess the situation and request State assistance if needed.
The State reviews the situation, mobilizes State resources, and informs
the FEMA Regional Office of actions taken. The Governor declares
a state of emergency, activates the State emergency operations
plan, and requests a Presidential disaster declaration. The State
and FEMA jointly conduct a Preliminary Damage Assessment to validate the
State’s request and determine the kind of Federal assistance needed.
After the declaration, a ROC, staffed by regional personnel, coordinates
initial regional and field activities such as deployment of an ERT-A.
The ERT-A assesses the impact of the event, gauges immediate State needs,
and makes preliminary arrangements to set up operational field facilities.
(If regional resources appear to be overwhelmed or if the event has potentially
significant consequences, FEMA may deploy an ERT-N.)
An interagency EST, composed of Emergency Support Function (ESF) representatives
and FEMA support staff, carries out initial activation and mission assignment
operations and supports the ROC from FEMA Headquarters.
A Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO), appointed by the FEMA Director on
behalf of the President, coordinates Federal activities. The FCO
works with the State Coordinating Officer to identify requirements.
The FCO heads the interagency ERT. The ERT works with the affected
State and conducts field operations from the DFO. ESF primary agencies
assess the situation and identify requirements. Under FEMA mission assignments
or their own authorities, agencies supply goods and services to help the
State respond effectively.
The CDRG, composed of representatives from FRP signatory agencies, convenes
at FEMA Headquarters when needed to provide guidance and policy direction
on coordination and operational issues. The EST supports the CDRG
and coordinates with the ERT.
As immediate response priorities are met, recovery activities begin in
the field. Federal and State agencies helping with recovery and mitigation
convene to discuss State needs.
Teleregistration is activated and has a toll-free telephone number disaster
victims can call to apply for assistance. A toll-free disaster helpline
is established to answer common questions. One or more DRCs may be
opened where victims can obtain information about disaster assistance,
advice, and counsel. The affected area is inspected to determine
the extent of damage, and funds for approved assistance are obligated.
Concurrently, Applicant Briefings are conducted for local government officials
and certain private nonprofit organizations to inform them of available
assistance and how to apply. Applicants must first file a Request
for Public Assistance. Eligible applicants will then be notified
and will define each project on a Project Worksheet, which details the
scope of damage and a cost estimate for repair to a pre-disaster condition.
The Project Worksheet will be used as the basis for obligating funds to
the State for eligible projects.
Throughout response and recovery, mitigation staff at the DFO examines
ways to maximize mitigation measures. Hazard Mitigation Site Survey
Teams contact local officials to identify potential projects and suggest
which ones should be included in an early implementation strategy.
The strategy, produced in cooperation with Federal, State, and local officials,
focuses on viable opportunities to provide funds, technical assistance,
and staff support to incorporate mitigation into the repair and replacement
of damaged or destroyed housing and infrastructure.
As the need for full-time interagency coordination at the DFO ceases, the
ERT plans for selective release of Federal resources, demobilization, and
closeout. Federal agencies then work directly with their grantees
from their regional or headquarters offices to administer and monitor individual
recovery programs, support, and technical services.