Recovery Function Annex
Recovery Function Annex
Click Here to view the Recovery Function
Disaster Recovery Programs
Updated: June 3, 1999
This portion of the Federal Response Plan (FRP) describes the structure
and coordination activities to implement the array of Federal disaster
programs, support, and technical services that directly assist individuals,
families, businesses (including farms), and State and local governments
to recover from the effects of a major disaster or emergency declared by
the President. The fundamental assumption is that recovery
is a cooperative effort among Federal, State, local, and voluntary agencies
and the private sector in partnership.
Sometimes disaster events require only the implementation of Federal and
State recovery and mitigation programs, like disaster loans, the Hazard
Mitigation Grant Program, or Disaster Housing. They may not require
Federal emergency response actions, or only limited response actions.
For this reason, this new part of the FRP has been included.
It has two purposes:
To describe separately the coordination and implementation of recovery
programs that occur outside the FRP’s emergency support function (ESF)
To document the linkages that exist among response, recovery, and mitigation
Definition of Terms, Scope
“Recovery activities” refer to actions by disaster victims that enable
them to begin the process of rebuilding their homes; replacing property;
resuming employment; restoring their businesses; permanently repairing,
rebuilding, or relocating public infrastructure; and mitigating future
disaster losses. It also refers to Federal Government programs of
assistance, support, and technical services that facilitate disaster victims’
recovery actions — such as grants and low-interest loans for repair or
replacement of homes, businesses, property, and infrastructure; technical
assistance; and education and information.
Recovery activities can begin immediately after a Presidential declaration.
When search and rescue, lifesaving, and emergency measures are well underway
or nearly complete, individuals, families, and businesses seek funding
and services to repair or replace their damaged property. State and
local governments plan the rebuilding of infrastructure and services, and
seek sources of funding for sustainable redevelopment of their communities.
The Federal Government collaborates with the State in planning and coordinating
the implementation of recovery programs to support families, businesses,
and governments and initiates the delivery of recovery services.
Recovery activities should be carried out in the context of long-term redevelopment
of viable, disaster-resistant communities. In this context, recovery
activities include implementation of postdisaster mitigation programs and
opportunities for disaster victims at all levels to make wise rebuilding
The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act is
the authority for implementation of the FRP, including the recovery functions
detailed in this document and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) authorities derive largely
from the Stafford Act.
Other Federal agencies have separate legislation and independent authorities
to declare a disaster and to provide assistance. Examples include
the Small Business Administration (SBA), whose Administrator is empowered
by the Small Business Act of 1953 to declare a disaster for the purpose
of providing disaster loan assistance based on physical damage and economic
injury; and the Department of Agriculture (USDA), whose Secretary (and
other agency officials) may designate counties eligible for various types
of emergency loans for physical damage and crop losses. Where these
actions occur independently outside a Presidential declaration, the FRP
does not apply.
Some of the agencies’ programs are specifically designed for disaster relief,
such as the SBA disaster loan program. Others, e.g., the Department
of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) Community Development Block
Grant program, are not designed as disaster assistance resources but may
be used by grantees, in whole or in part, to address disaster recovery
needs. Supplemental appropriations may be required to provide the
Coordination and Planning as
Key Elements in Recovery
The Stafford Act assigns to FEMA the principal coordination function —
the interactive process by which multiple Federal assistance programs are
reviewed, initiated, implemented, and delivered to address the unique needs
of a particular disaster area. (FEMA also is responsible for funding,
managing, and delivering certain Stafford Act programs.) Systematic
coordination among Federal agencies and States is necessary before and
during a disaster to ensure effective, efficient delivery of the array
of recovery programs that can aid disaster victims in alleviating damage,
hardship, loss, and suffering. The Federal coordination process
must operate effectively, beginning “bottom up” in the field at the Disaster
Field Office (DFO), with the Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) and staff
interacting with State and local governments and being supported by headquarters
to resolve major policy and resource issues. The President assigns
the FCO and the Governor names a State Coordinating Officer (SCO) to focus
Before a disaster, interagency planning and coordination provide a foundation
for strengthening relationships among Federal and State agencies, voluntary
organizations, and private sector entities; identifying inconsistencies
and overlaps in recovery programs; streamlining program delivery; furthering
intergovernmental partnerships; and improving customer service. Coordination
is critical to promote efficient, timely, consistent Federal action.
A structured approach to recovery planning also incorporates mitigation
activities and lays the groundwork for the State to oversee longer term
redevelopment and reconstruction that promote sustainable development.
Interagency meetings facilitate understanding and familiarity with recovery
programs and priorities. Contacts can be fostered in pre-disaster
meetings and in meetings during disaster operations with recovery counterparts.
Meetings in both settings serve to:
Share management information and assessments;
Identify short-term and more protracted needs;
Discuss resource allocation issues, including funding;
Identify critical environmental issues;
Resolve program duplication issues;
Discuss and resolve timing issues (e.g., establishment of centers and workshops,
issuance of public information);
Establish priorities and report progress in meeting established priorities;
Identify and resolve overlaps or shortfalls in Federal or State programs
as they arise in the field;
Discuss and suggest solutions for issues arising from Community Relations
Ensure coordinated Federal activities that promote community sustainability.
The involvement of voluntary organizations and private sector at the national,
State, and local levels is critical to the success of a disaster recovery
mission. Voluntary organizations, including the American Red Cross,
the Mennonite Disaster Service, the Salvation Army, and other organizations,
are encouraged to provide leadership and to coordinate with Federal, State,
and local governments in recovery planning and program implementation.
Voluntary Agency Liaisons at FEMA regional offices serve as the principal
linkages between FEMA and voluntary organizations, and as conveners and
coordinators of voluntary organization local consortiums. These liaisons
assist in supporting community-based long-term recovery organizations,
aid in developing State-based voluntary coalitions called Voluntary Organizations
Active in Disaster (VOADs), and coordinate between the FCO and voluntary
organizations during disaster operations. A counterpart national
organization known as the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
(NVOAD) serves as a forum for nonprofit disaster relief organizations to
meet in disaster preparedness periods to discuss emergency management issues,
share disaster experiences, and develop organizational relationships.
Determination of Recovery
The overall responsibility for recovery rests with State and local governments.
The FRP recognizes the primacy of State and local governments in defining
recovery requirements and identifying needs. The Federal Government’s
role is to complement and supplement State, local, and private resources
to facilitate recovery.
State and local governments define recovery priorities in the public sector.
However, the FCO is charged with making a management information assessment
of the needs caused by the disaster or emergency. This assessment
builds upon the Preliminary Damage Assessment in that it provides to program
managers at all levels of government the information needed to implement,
manage, and staff disaster assistance programs and to prioritize the types
of assistance most urgently needed. The management assessment should
be conducted jointly (as appropriate) between Federal and State agencies,
and continue as needed until the programs not only are in operation but
are being appropriately implemented.
Recovery Concepts and Requirements
As response phases into recovery, and when the Federal partners begin
to coordinate recovery program priorities, certain Federal laws and requirements
must be used as guidance in initiating and implementing recovery programs.
Floodplain Management, Flood Insurance, Environmental Protection, Historic
Under Executive Order 11988, Floodplain Management, all Federal agencies
are required to take action to reduce the risk of flood loss; minimize
or eliminate the impact of flooding on human safety, health, and welfare;
and restore and preserve the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains
while carrying out their programs and activities. Federal agency
implementation of E.O. 11988 is critical during recovery because reconstruction
or repair activities offer opportunities for economically feasible flood
Implementation of floodplain management measures through local community
participation in the NFIP also is a key component of recovery operations.
Local floodplain management ordinances may require repair and reconstruction
activities to meet prudent construction code requirements that mitigate
future losses. Flood insurance policies now provide additional coverage
to assist in paying the costs of bringing existing construction into compliance
with current codes.
The Office of Management and Budget and the Council on Environmental
Quality jointly issued a policy guidance memorandum on February 18, 1997,
entitled Floodplain Management and Procedures for Evaluation and Review
of Levee and Associated Restoration Projects, which emphasized the need
to consider nonstructural alternatives to flood protection during recovery
and the need for coordination at all levels of government. The goal
is “to achieve a rapid and effective response to damaged flood and floodplain
management systems that will minimize risk to life and property, while
ensuring a cost-effective approach to flood damage mitigation and floodplain
management and the protection of important environmental and natural resource
values that are inherent to the floodplain and adjacent lands.”
This policy reflects the fact that recovery should take place in a climate
of attention to floodplain management considerations (the Flood Disaster
Protection Act of 1973, as amended), E.O. 11988, environmental considerations
(the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended, and
other associated environmental laws), and flood insurance purchase and
maintenance requirements (National Flood Insurance legislation, including
the National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994). NEPA provides an
umbrella under which agencies review compliance with a host of Federal
environmental legislation and other related issues, such as floodplain
and wetlands management, endangered species, historic preservation, and
environmental justice issues. Some response activities are exempt
from specific NEPA review requirements, but must still comply with other
environmental statutes. As recovery programs get underway, compliance
with environmental legislation deepens, but for the vast majority of projects
the environmental review process is expedited through the use of categorical
exclusions. FEMA and other Federal agencies follow their agency regulations
which specify the level of review required for specific recovery program
In siting temporary or permanent structures, the Federal and State agencies
agree to comply, within the bounds of recovery program laws and regulations,
with the spirit and letter of floodplain management and environmental legislation
as a way of protecting people, property, and structures against future
threats. Federal and State agencies also are encouraged to preserve
properties with a historical significance as part of the assistance decision-making
Mitigation and Risk Management
Federal agencies commit to assist in rebuilding structures and facilities
and restoring land in a way that minimizes risk of future damage and achieves
the goal of building disaster-resistant communities. The terms that
describe these concepts — “mitigation” and “risk management” — are
often used as a unit, when they are defined as “sustained actions taken
to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people, property, and structures
from hazards and their effects.” The concepts of mitigation
and risk management are based on the premise that money spent on mitigation
will save significant future money by reducing the vulnerability of individuals,
businesses, and communities to future disasters. Mitigation is critical
to the responsibility of all Federal agencies to provide short- and long-term
solutions to minimize the effects of disasters. The Deputy FCO for
Mitigation (DFCO-M) has a leadership role in promoting the concepts and
programs of mitigation and risk management. Mitigation — as a concept
translated into functional programs — should permeate all recovery activities
undertaken at the State, local, and even individual levels, regardless
of the source of funding for activities or projects.
Nonstructural alternatives to building and repairing structures and restoring
former capability should be considered as mitigation/risk management opportunities
(e.g., property acquisition, relocation of flood-threatened structures,
insurance, insurance revenue plans). Through early planning and consultation
with Federal agencies that have statutory mitigation authorities, agencies
should also recognize the balance between objectives in recovery planning,
such as those involved with temporary measures vs. permanent restorative
work. State and local governments will be provided information and
technical assistance required for the careful community recovery planning
that will result in future disaster-resistant communities. It is
critical to incorporate mitigation and risk management concepts and activities
into recovery planning.
Other Crosscutting Requirements
In addition to the objectives of floodplain management, environmental
protection, historic preservation, mitigation, and risk management, agencies
must remain cognizant of additional crosscutting statutory and other reasonable
protections in facilitating or providing resources for disaster recovery.
These considerations include civil rights, environmental justice, fair
housing, affordable housing, sustainable development, seismic safety, affordable
insurance, disaster-resistant communities, Federal and State coastal zone
management requirements, drought-resistant crop planting, and crop insurance.
Planning for recovery begins before a disaster. Recovery coordination
necessary to implement disaster assistance programs takes place when lifesaving
and emergency operations may still be ongoing. The requirements for
staffing to be devoted to recovery operations are determined as early as
State and local governments are responsible for identifying needs, establishing
recovery priorities, and requesting appropriate assistance; for contributing
cost-shares as established by law and regulation; for dealing with land
use, floodplain management, development, and permitting and land-use waiver
issues; and for identifying sites for temporary facilities. State
and local resources to carry out these responsibilities may be overwhelmed,
requiring Federal technical and financial assistance.
In a major disaster of significant impact, the establishment of the formal
recovery processes (teleregistration for Disaster Housing, SBA disaster
loans, and grants; opening of Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs)) and implementation
of the other agencies’ recovery programs should be well-planned and coordinated,
and should start as early as practicable.
Information-sharing protocols, including formal coordination meetings,
are critical for interagency coordination, good customer relations, and
The lead Federal agency (usually FEMA) has responsibility for coordinating
(rather than directing or managing) the implementation and funding processes
of other Federal agency programs. FEMA does not fund programs that
are within the authorities of another Federal agency, or other agencies’
participation in disaster operations.
Mitigation programs and choices are most effective and economical if implemented
in the early stages of recovery or before a disaster occurs (such as buying
insurance or adopting appropriate codes through participation in the NFIP
or planning efforts with NFIP Flood Mitigation Assistance funds).
The concept of sustainability brings a relatively new approach to environmental,
economic, and social thought and has the potential to enhance the achievement
of mitigation goals in the postdisaster (as well as pre-disaster) environment.
Sustainability is development that maintains or enhances economic opportunity
and community well-being while respecting, protecting, and restoring the
natural environment upon which people and economies depend. Sustainable
redevelopment is simply the application of the concepts and practices of
sustainable development to the disaster recovery process.
Concept of Operations
Federal agencies operate as a team in disaster recovery, bringing to the
table the resources of their agencies to address identified needs.
The President’s disaster program is coordinated by FEMA. Agencies
share their program information and make their assistance available through
the coordination mechanism of the FRP when a Presidential declaration is
The initiation of recovery programs is based on the fact that response
actions are well underway (or have not been needed) and recovery actions
would not interfere with ongoing response activities; that the communities
and families affected are ready for the decision making that the programs
require; that effective, coordinated, Federal-State recovery planning continues
to take place; and that communications and support facilities for effective
recovery have been restored. The FCO makes use of coordination meetings
with State and local officials, along with Federal agency recovery officials,
to identify priorities and programs requested, identify and resolve funding
issues, and review the milestones for program delivery. Milestones
should be established only after consultation with all major programs.
Recovery program funding is provided directly to the affected State, locality,
business, or individual/family. Where assistance is provided to a
State for community/infrastructure recovery programs, the State administers
the grant and passes the funding to affected communities. (This method
contrasts with the funding mechanisms used for response activities that
include procurement from commercial sources and issuance of mission assignments
to agencies providing direct Federal assistance.)
in the Disaster Field Office
The Emergency Response Team (ERT) Operations Section in the DFO includes
a Human Services Branch and an Infrastructure Support Branch. These
branches, along with the Deputy FCO for Mitigation, form the program part
of the recovery organization. The Operations Section Chief
is the central coordination point for Federal and State agencies and voluntary
organizations in the implementation of recovery programs. (These
responsibilities may be delegated to the Human Services Branch or Infrastructure
Support Branch, and also may be accomplished by the DFCO-M.) In addition,
liaisons among the Human Services and Infrastructure Support Branches and
the Mitigation organization may be appointed for intra-agency coordination.
Agencies having recovery programs and support and technical services will
be included in the ERT organization. The structure will expand or
contract as appropriate, depending on the nature of the disaster recovery
needs. Where no response component is established, the operation
may be scaled back to include only the Human Services Branch and/or the
Infrastructure Support Branch and/or the Mitigation organization.
Human Services Branch
This branch is staffed by the Individual Assistance Officer, other program
officers, DRC personnel, program liaisons, and others. It is led
by the Human Services Officer (HSO), whose functions are to:
Assist the FCO to assess individual, family, and business needs in the
disaster area and, working with State and local officials and other Federal
agencies, initiate programs that address those needs;
Initiate advertisement of FEMA’s toll-free teleregistration service and
establish one or more DRCs. Openings should be coordinated with the
program delivery needs of all Federal and State agencies, including SBA;
Coordinate program implementation with agencies and organizations;
Initiate delivery of the individual assistance programs authorized by the
Plan and coordinate with the National Processing Service Centers (NPSCs)
the receipt and processing of applications for the Disaster Housing
program; refer cases to the State for processing in the Individual and
Family Grant (IFG) program; and coordinate with SBA the delivery of its
disaster loan programs;
In coordination with the NPSCs, ensure policies and procedures are in place
to prevent and rectify duplication of benefits or receipt of excessive
Perform grant management functions with respect to grant programs for individuals/families
that are implemented by FEMA and the State.
Where the size of the disaster warrants, the HSO may appoint Assistant
or Deputy HSOs, or the Individual Assistance Officer, to manage the specific
program groups within the Human Services Branch. FEMA staff, along
with representatives from the State and Federal agencies with assistance
programs in each of these groups, should staff the branch:
ESF #6 — Mass Care and ESF
#11 — Food. In a recovery operation that also involves response,
these ESFs will be included in the Human Services Branch. See the
appropriate ESF annex for details and responsibilities.
Disaster Housing Group. A FEMA representative leads this group, along
with appropriate State representation, especially if a portion of the mission
is to be performed by the State. Functions such as policy coordination,
resource identification, and manufactured housing operations (including
environmental review), and tasks such as project monitoring and pre-placement
interviewing are among the responsibilities of the group.
IFG Group. The IFG program is funded jointly by FEMA and the
State, but is administered by the State. FEMA and the State should
co-lead this function, which consists of technical assistance to the State,
training, funding, grant management, and program monitoring.
Program Coordination Group. This group handles the issues
not enumerated above. Particularly important is the function of coordination
with SBA and the Farm Services Agency (and other USDA Federal and State
agencies). Other agencies that can be coordinated through this group
include the Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, Department
of Health and Human Services, Department of Labor, and Young Lawyers Division
of the American Bar Association. Program emphases include SBA disaster
loans, farm programs, tax counseling, Social Security check replacement,
Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training, stress management counseling
programs, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, and Disaster Legal Services.
Establishment of application, intake, or counseling sites to accommodate
these and other applicable programs should be coordinated within the group.
Donations Management Group. Where the State is prepared to
handle donations management, this function should be led by the State.
Otherwise, it should be led jointly by the State and FEMA. Functions
include setting up a toll-free telephone number, matching donated goods
and services with validated needs, setting up a Donations Coordination
Team, and overseeing the shipping, receiving, and distribution of goods
Voluntary Organization Coordination Group. FEMA’s Voluntary Agency
Liaisons lead this function, which is focused on starting case assistance
to address unmet needs, working with voluntary organizations to develop
community-based long-term recovery organizations to manage case assistance
related to unmet needs, and coordinating volunteers. Representatives
from national, State, and local voluntary organizations with programs applicable
in the disaster area should staff this function, as far as practicable.
Agencies offering support and technical services in the human services
arena will also staff the Human Services Branch.
Infrastructure Support Branch
The Infrastructure Support Branch is headed by the Infrastructure Support
Branch Chief and is staffed with Public Assistance Officers, Public Assistance
Coordinators, and Project Officers who are responsible for the administration
and proper operation and delivery of assistance to State and local applicants.
Personnel from ESF #3 — Public Works and Engineering
and response representatives from ESF #12 — Energy
also staff the branch. Staff from other agencies offering support
and technical services also may be attached to the branch, as well as liaison
with the DFCO-M. The Infrastructure Support Branch Chief’s functions
Coordinate the implementation and management of recovery programs between
and among State and Federal officials;
Serve as technical infrastructure program advisor to the FCO;
Supervise other Federal agencies providing direct Federal assistance under
a FEMA mission assignment;
Coordinate the completion of mission assignments;
Identify mitigation opportunities; and
Work with the Public Assistance Officer to carry out recovery functions
for programs authorized under the Stafford Act.
The Deputy FCO for Mitigation leads this organization, which is staffed
with program specialists, field coordinators, and technicians. Activities
Coordinate between and among State and Federal officials the implementation
and management of mitigation activities;
Provide technical assistance in execution of the Early Implementation
Provide technical support to the Human Services Officer, Infrastructure
Support Branch Chief, and Community Relations staff;
Plan comprehensively for hazard mitigation;
Address environmental consequences of the disaster, including those
in coastal zones;
Map hazards and analyze risks, which may be done by interagency hazard
Accomplish cost-benefit analysis and training;
Assist communities to develop building codes;
Develop and deliver training and education programs;
Disseminate public awareness and information materials at DRCs;
Establish Reconstruction Information Centers (RICs) to offer mitigation
and reconstruction information assistance;
Identify disaster-specific mitigation issues, strategies, opportunities,
Work within FEMA and other Federal agencies to coordinate opportunities
for long-term recovery with State and local planning officials, when appropriate;
Assist communities to promote sustainable development.
As the Human Services and Infrastructure Support Branches are beginning
early assessments of needs during response, it is also critical that the
Mitigation organization assemble and coordinate relevant Federal and State
agencies to assess mitigation program needs and match Federal and State
resources and programs to meet those needs. This early implementation
strategy sets goals for all mitigation partnership players and provides
a platform for ongoing coordination and revision of the strategy as necessary.
Several Federal mitigation-related programs (e.g., the NFIP, the Hazard
Mitigation Grant Program, and the Earthquake Program) are administered
through existing grant mechanisms and standing relationships with State
and local governments. These relationships, as well as those established
by the FRP and potential relationships with agencies involved in recovery
activities, increase the opportunity for communication and coordination
of mitigation in the aftermath of a disaster.
To achieve optimum effectiveness, mitigation resources and coordination
within the recovery context in a DFO should flow through the centralized
function of the DFCO-M, using staff of response operations. After
DFO closure, the coordination function is transferred to the Mitigation
Division of the FEMA Regional Office or another lead Federal agency office.
Mitigation operations have the flexibility to adapt to different sizes
and types of disasters. Mitigation personnel will participate in intra-
and interagency coordination to assist in identifying mitigation opportunities
and areas of possible funding.
Assistance to Individuals,
Families, and Businesses
This section describes the initiation and coordination of programs
providing recovery assistance directly to individuals, families, and businesses.
It also describes the initiation of the process by which individuals gain
access to Disaster Housing (FEMA), Individual and Family Grant (FEMA-State),
and disaster loan (SBA) programs. Other Federal agencies, as well
as State and voluntary organizations, also have programs that may be available
to disaster victims. A matrix outlining these programs is included
at the end of this annex.
Some of the recovery programs for individuals, families, and businesses
are automatically triggered by the specific language of the President’s
declaration. Others, such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s
insurance benefit program in the event of a nuclear incident and certain
farm benefit programs operated by USDA, do not require a Presidential declaration,
but may require a local or State request. Still others, such as the
Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training program, may be available following
a Presidential declaration if needed and upon the Governor’s request and
specific agency approval. During the initial field-level coordination
meetings of recovery agencies, program representatives should advise the
FCO on whether any of the needed programs must be requested separately.
Plans should be made for:
Providing technical assistance to the State for requesting these programs;
Arranging for damage or management information assessments;
Arranging for any State cost-sharing required by law or regulation; and
Noting and observing any time frames associated with those requests.
and Inspection for Housing, Disaster Loans, and IFG Assistance
FEMA establishes a toll-free registration telephone number (often known
as teleregistration) to give individuals, families, and businesses access
to three widely used programs: the Disaster Housing program, the SBA disaster
loan program, and the IFG program administered by the State. Teleregistration
service is available in a variety of languages. The phone bank also
offers referrals to many other Federal, State, local, and voluntary organization
programs and resources. Agencies having local offices should supply
information to FEMA about how to contact them as soon as possible after
a disaster declaration, or, ideally, during pre-disaster planning meetings
FEMA provides inspection services both for the Disaster Housing program
and to assist States in administering the IFG program. Inspectors
verify the extent of damages and the value of losses to housing and other
personal property. FEMA refers applications and inspection information
to SBA for its information in addressing housing and personal property
needs. Finally, FEMA assists SBA by making additional determinations
about whether the applicant should be referred to SBA for a disaster loan
based on criteria provided by SBA, and by making subsequent referrals of
SBA loan denials to the State for meeting unmet needs.
FEMA processes Disaster Housing and IFG applications at NPSCs, which operate
another critical customer service, the helpline. Assistance is available
through this toll-free telephone number in determining the status of applications
and obtaining referrals to sources of assistance other than Disaster Housing,
disaster loans, and IFG. Federal, State, local, and private organizations
should provide timely and accurate referral information to helpline staff.
Disaster Recovery Centers may be opened to provide on-site information
services. These may vary in each disaster and include taking applications,
serving as a forum for State and local agencies’ disaster programs, assisting
families and businesses to fill out SBA disaster loan applications, answering
status questions, or providing reconstruction and mitigation information.
Federal agencies often are represented in DRCs to offer and explain programs
that are tailored to meet disaster victims’ and service providers’ needs
(e.g., HUD’s section 203(k) mortgage assistance programs for disaster victims).
The FCO and HSO will coordinate with Federal, State, voluntary, and private-sector
partners who offer services to establish, identify the purposes of, staff,
and set the days and hours of operation of these centers.
Program Procedures of
Other Federal, State, local, and voluntary organizations have established
procedures for accepting and processing disaster applications. They
may have toll-free telephone lines or sites where individuals, families,
and businesses may receive information and application assistance for their
specific recovery programs. Components of other agency programs should
be coordinated with the FCO and his/her staff (the ERT Operations Section
Chief, Human Services Officer, and/or Infrastructure Support Branch Chief),
State and local government staff, and FEMA’s Office of Emergency Information
and Media Affairs, so that consistent decision making and public information
may be provided. Public affairs offices of Federal and State agencies
and voluntary organizations should be advised of all recovery activities.
Coordination meetings among agencies offering assistance are ideal forums
in which to ensure that customers receive accurate, timely service for
Sequence of Assistance Delivery
and Duplication of Benefits
Disaster assistance programs for individuals, families, and businesses
often overlap in their coverage and purpose. Section 312 of the Stafford
Act, Duplication of Benefits, requires that no person, business concern,
or other entity receive Federal disaster assistance for any part of a loss
that has been covered by any other program, insurance, or any other source.
FEMA has established a policy for preventing and rectifying duplication.
The duplication of benefits policy excludes expendable items from being
considered duplicative. Expendable items include clothing, linens,
and basic kitchenware. No checks for duplication need to be made
for such items. See 44 CFR 206.191 for a more complete explanation.
The policy includes the concept of a sequence of delivery, which establishes
the order in which the major forms of overlapping assistance should be
provided. The agency that has primary responsibility for delivering
a certain type of assistance should provide that assistance first, and
may do so without regard to other agencies with similar assistance that
are lower in the sequence. Agencies are not prohibited from disrupting
the sequence to expedite the recovery of an applicant. However, the
agency that disrupts the sequence must take the corrective action.
The sequence of delivery is:
An example of duplication of benefits is that FEMA, primary agency in the
delivery of Disaster Housing assistance, provides funds for minimal repairs
(e.g., a new window or door to make a home habitable). SBA might
also include funds for these two items in a loan. This would
be a duplication. To rectify it, SBA would be required to recoup
the loan or reduce the loan amount by the dollar value of the window or
Voluntary organizations’ emergency assistance; insurance proceeds (including
additional living expense benefits);
Disaster Housing assistance, including rental assistance, funds for minimal
repairs, and provision of housing units;
SBA disaster loans for individuals and nonfarm businesses, and USDA disaster
loans for agricultural enterprises;
e. Voluntary organizations’ additional assistance (i.e., nonemergency)
f. Other programs that are not primarily intended for disaster recovery
(e.g., FEMA’s Cora C. Brown Fund and FEMA’s mitigation and property acquisition
FEMA’s disaster assistance automated information and processing system
is a decision-making tool that aids FEMA, SBA, the State, and voluntary
organizations in preventing and rectifying duplication of benefits.
Because assistance requests, approvals of assistance, and insurance benefit
information are shared, agency decision makers can avoid awarding assistance
already provided. Agencies other than FEMA, SBA, the State, and certain
voluntary organizations do not normally have access to FEMA’s information-sharing
system. However, such agencies may request information from FEMA
if an applicant has requested their assistance and authorized FEMA to release
the information, and if the voluntary organization intends to deliver a
benefit that duplicates housing or personal property repair or replacement
or delivers medical or death benefits.
Assistance to State and Local
The overall responsibility for accomplishing recovery of public facilities,
infrastructure, and essential government services rests with State and
local governments. Insurance and Federal agency disaster assistance
are supplemental and are not meant to supplant State and local prerogatives,
programs, or responsibilities.
There is a broad array of Federal assistance programs for disaster
recovery in the public sector. This section describes the delivery
system and coordination of recovery assistance programs, many of which
are delivered in the form of grants, loans, and direct payments to State
and local governments, certain private nonprofit (PNP) organizations, and
Indian Tribes. Some forms of State and local assistance are provided
as a “pass through” for aiding individuals and families. Others are
intended to address recovery needs for planning and support/technical services
to augment the capacity of State and local governments.
Much of the Federal recovery assistance directed to State and local
governments is directed toward rehabilitation, reconstruction, replacement,
or relocation of housing; repairing, replacing, or rebuilding damaged public
facilities (e.g., public buildings, utilities, roads, bridges, water control
facilities) and infrastructure; and mitigation planning and reconstruction
management, incorporating mitigation concepts. This section describes
the early coordination mechanisms for activating the appropriate recovery
programs and delivering program assistance efficiently and effectively.
Coordination Issues in Assistance for State and Local Governments
Federal agencies with direct recovery and mitigation programs for State
and local governments normally initiate and implement their programs concurrently
with FEMA’s Public Assistance program. Some Federal programs overlap
in coverage and purpose, and may be initiated and operated in various ways.
The ERT Operations Section Chief will be the primary focal point for the
coordination of Federal recovery assistance to State and local governments,
with advice and assistance from the DFCO-M. He/she may delegate the
coordination responsibility to the Infrastructure Support Branch Chief
(or FEMA Public Assistance Officer) when program or operational issues
are limited to State and local assistance programs (such as duplication
of benefits, duplication of effort, or program timing). The Public
Assistance Officer and State and Federal recovery agencies work together
to identify and resolve these issues. Field coordination activities
For example, if restoration of public highways is at issue with respect
to which Federal program should fund its repair, the involved agencies
(the Federal Highway Administration, Bureau of Indian Affairs, or FEMA)
coordinate the determination of which agency should provide funding, based
on current legislation, regulations, and purpose of the requested funds.
Sharing management information and assessments;
Identifying program gaps or funding shortfalls; and
Resolving program duplication issues.
Duplication of Benefits
Section 312 of the Stafford Act, Duplication of Benefits, also applies
to FEMA’s Public Assistance program when it states that the head of each
Federal agency will ensure that no person, business concern, or other entity
will receive Federal assistance if it has received financial assistance
under any other program or from insurance.
FEMA’s Public Assistance program benefits are supplemental to insurance,
which is primary. Actual and anticipated insurance recoveries will be deducted
from otherwise eligible costs, thus preventing any duplication of benefits.
Additionally, FEMA generally does not fund permanent repair projects when
another Federal agency has specific authority to restore facilities damaged
or destroyed by an event that is declared a major disaster.
Other Federal agencies also are governed by legislation outlining measures
to prevent duplication of benefits. The principle involved is that
the agencies are charged not to make their Federal funds available for
uses the cost of which may be reimbursable by a primary disaster funding
source in the sequence of delivery. For example, some costs for repair
or replacement of infrastructure are generally first borne by insurance
or FEMA’s section 406 program, rather than HUD’s Community Development
Block Grant program or the Economic Development Administration’s grant
Accessing Federal Assistance
Major Federal disaster recovery programs and support/technical services
are summarized in the following matrix. Included is assistance to
individuals, families, businesses, and State and local governments.
For more detailed information, State and local officials should consult
the interagency publication, Disaster Assistance: A Guide to Recovery
Programs (November 1995). They also may contact the appropriate Federal
agency’s representative in the DFO or the Federal agency’s local field