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Disaster Assistance


How a Disaster is Declared

If an emergency or disaster overwhelms the capabilities of local and State government response efforts and resources, the Governor may request that the President of the United States declare an emergency. For such declaration to take place, several steps must be taken. First, the City Council and/or County Commission must adopt a Proclamation of Existence of a Local Emergency. Secondly, the City Council and/or County Commission must adopt a Resolution Requesting the Governor to Proclaim a Local State of Emergency. Thirdly, a letter must be written to the Governor by the Mayor and/or the Chairman of the County Commission stating that an emergency has indeed occurred within the affected jurisdiction, and that State and Federal assistance will be needed to respond and recover from the emergency. The adopted proclamation and resolution must accompany the letter to the Governor, as well as a preliminary damage assessment report. The Governor forwards the information to the President of the United States, who may provide assistance.


Once a Presidential Declaration is Made

Once a Presidential declaration is made, a Federal Coordinating Officer is selected to coordinate Federal assistance. Disaster Response Centers will be opened in the disaster area. These centers provide information to citizens about the types of assistance available to them. Federal, State, local, and private relief agencies are available at that location to provide information and assistance to affected persons.


Types of Assistance Available

Once an emergency is declared, two types of assistance may be made available, depending upon the extent of the emergency.

Individual assistance may be made available to individual victims of the disaster. This aid may be in the form of temporary housing for disaster victims, minimum essential repairs to owner-occupied residences, temporary assistance with mortgage or rental payments, disaster unemployment assistance, low-interest loans to individuals as well as businesses and farmers, agricultural assistance, distribution of food coupons, individual and family grants, legal services, crisis counseling, social security assistance, and veterans' assistance.

Public assistance may be made available to local governments. Monies may be made available to clear debris on public or private land and waters; mitigation projects; repair or replacement of damaged roads, streets, and bridges; repair or replacement of destroyed or damaged water control facilities; repair or replacement of destroyed or damaged public buildings and related equipment; repair or replacement of destroyed or damaged public utilities; repair or restoration of destroyed or damaged public facilities damaged while under construction; repair or restoration of destroyed or damaged recreational facilities and parks; and repair or replacement of destroyed or damaged private nonprofit education, utility, emergency, medical, and custodial care facilities, including those for the aged or disabled.

There is no guarantee that individual or public assistance will be provided for all uses described above. The type of assistance provided depends upon the extent of damage caused by the emergency and the disaster's effect upon the County's population and property.



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