Community Relations Support Annex
In PDF format
Updated: June 3, 1999
This annex provides guidance on the Community Relations (CR) function
to expedite Federal, State, and local governments’ ability to help citizens
and communities recover from the effects of a major disaster. The
CR function deploys field officers into affected communities after a major
disaster to gather and disseminate information about the disaster response
and recovery process. CR serves as a direct link to these communities
and works in close coordination with other program elements to develop
and deliver messages related to the availability of Federal disaster assistance.
This annex discusses the policies, responsibilities, and concept
of operations for the CR element in a potential, imminent, or federally
The CR function is responsible for assessing and documenting the social,
political, and cultural aspects of a disaster area that might affect the
disaster response and recovery effort.
The CR function is designed to ensure that the citizens of disaster-affected
communities are aware of available Federal disaster assistance programs
and how to access them.
CR management and field officers will deploy simultaneously with other
initial disaster response elements as warranted by the situation.
Up-to-date resource databases will be available to provide established
contacts, relationships, and rosters of local government officials and
appropriate community groups and organizations.
Current, accurate, and accessible geographic and demographic databases
are readily available.
CR will coordinate with all elements of the Emergency Response Team (ERT)
to ensure that information disseminated in the field is timely and consistent.
Concept of Operations
Preparation by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regional staff
for an anticipated or actual event will include coordinating with the affected
State(s), collecting relevant information on the situation, alerting required
staff, and deploying CR personnel to, or near, the affected area.
In coordination with other staff elements, an initial Community Relations
Plan, with disaster-specific guidance and objectives, will be prepared
jointly by the CR Coordinator and the appropriate State official at the
beginning of each disaster operation.
The CR function will be performed jointly by the Federal and State personnel,
when available, working to achieve the objectives specified in the Community
Relations Plan. Field teams will be organized and dispersed throughout
the affected area. They will include trained Federal, State, and,
if necessary, locally hired persons who know the community. The cultural,
racial, and ethnic makeup of the affected population (including languages
spoken) will be taken into consideration to the extent possible when making
field team assignments.
The CR element coordinates closely with the affected State(s) to identify
community leaders (e.g., grassroots, political, religious, educational,
business, labor, ethnic) and neighborhood advocacy groups to assist in
the rapid dissemination of information, identify unmet needs, establish
an ongoing dialogue and information exchange, and facilitate collaborative
Federal, State, and local planning and mutual support for disaster recovery.
Community Relations is a staff element of the ERT. The CR
Coordinator reports directly to the Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO).
A functional organization chart is shown in Figure
CR-1. Major CR functions can be expanded or streamlined to meet
the needs of the
The CR Operations element is responsible for organizing and managing
the CR field component, which interfaces with local governments, community
organizations, and disaster victims. The field component may be divided
into geographic areas and sectors, depending on the size and nature of
Area Managers are assigned to disasters that affect a large geographic
area and/or have a large number of sector teams. Area Managers assist
in the supervision of sector teams to maintain an appropriate management
span of control and enhance day-to-day communications. Each CR sector
will have an assigned Sector Manager who reports to the Field Operations
Chief or Area Manager as appropriate. An appropriate number of field
officers are assigned to each sector.
Figure CR-1 — ERT CR Structure
(Positions in boxes with heavier lines are activated only during large-scale
Depending on the size and nature of a disaster, the CR function
may include an Information element, an Administrative/Logistics Liaison,
and/or a Training Liaison. The Information element manages the timely
flow of CR information to and from the FCO, the CR field component, and
other Disaster Field Office sources. The Administrative/Logistics
Liaison provides short-term logistics support to field officers and coordinates
the long-term administrative and personnel activities of the CR function.
The Training Liaison identifies training needs and provides disaster-specific
orientation and training, supported by the Disaster Field Training Office.
In response to an anticipated or actual regional event, CR staff
will be notified, activated, and deployed through the regional CR cadre
manager. Regions may request additional staff through FEMA Headquarters
at any time. Staff from other FEMA regions and Headquarters may be
used to augment regional CR operations in large disasters as needed.
The number of CR field officers and extent of involvement throughout
disaster response and recovery operations will be governed by the CR Plan
and any subsequent amendments. Specific activities and responsibilities
of CR field officers will be in accordance with procedures and guidance
contained in the CR Operations Manual and CR Field Operations Guide.
Primary Agency: Federal Emergency
In conjunction with the disaster-affected State, ensure an efficient and
reliable flow of disaster-related information between victims and public
and private organizations that provide assistance;
Supply the CR function with a staff of trained personnel;
Ensure that the CR function promotes equal access to disaster assistance
consistent with the Stafford Act and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act;
Establish and adhere to standardized procedures that provide for a consistent
level of CR services to disaster victims.
Department of Justice, Community Relations Service
The Community Relations Service of the Department of Justice, through
a FEMA mission assignment, can provide conciliation and mediation training
and technical assistance in matters of race, color, or national origin;
conflict resolution; problem solving; cultural awareness; and community
Corporation for National Service
The Corporation for National Service (CNS) is responsible for providing
assistance to States and collaborating agencies to perform specific functions
for disadvantaged or special-needs disaster victims. CNS, through
a memorandum of understanding with FEMA, can be provided a FEMA mission
assignment to support the CR function. CNS can provide teams of trained
personnel to be strategically placed in areas of heaviest need to assist
the elderly, the physically or mentally disabled, and low-income populations.
CNS includes AmeriCorps USA, Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA),
National Civilian Community Group, and Retired Senior Volunteer Program.
Community Relations Operations Manual.
Community Relations Field Operations Guide.