Emergency Response Guidelines

Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 Transforms Field of Emergency Management

October 5, 2018

President Donald J. Trump signed the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 (DRRA) into law as part of the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018.   With the economic disruption and the cost of disasters on the rise nationwide, FEMA worked closely with Congress over the past year as they considered, and ultimately passed, important reforms to federal disaster programs.

These reforms acknowledge the shared responsibility of disaster response and recovery, aim to reduce the complexity of FEMA and build the nation’s capacity for the next catastrophic event.  Highlights from the DRRA include:

  • Greater investment in mitigation, before a disaster: Authorizing the National Public Infrastructure Pre-Disaster Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, funded through the Disaster Relief Fund as a six percent set aside from disaster expenses.
  • Reducing risk from future disasters after fire: Providing hazard mitigation grant funding in areas that received Fire Management Assistance Grants as a result of wildfire.  Adding 14 new mitigation project types associated with wildfires and windstorms.
  • Increasing state capacity to manage disaster recovery: Allowing for higher rates of reimbursement to state, local, tribal and territorial partners for their administrative costs when implementing public assistance and hazard mitigation projects.  Additionally, the legislation provides flexibility for states and tribes to administer their own post-disaster housing missions, while encouraging the development of disaster housing strategies.
  • Providing greater flexibility to survivors with disabilities: Increasing the amount of assistance available to individuals and households affected by disasters, including allowing accessibility repairs for people with disabilities, without counting those repairs against their maximum disaster assistance grant award.
  • Retaining skilled response and recovery personnel: Authorizing FEMA to appoint certain types of temporary employees who have been with the agency for three continuous years to full time positions in the same manner as federal employees with competitive status.  This allows the agency to retain and promote talented, experienced emergency managers.

The full text of the bill can be found at www.congress.gov.


FEMA Issues Planning Considerations: Evacuation and Shelter-in-Place Guidance 

July 2019

FEMA has released Planning Considerations: Evacuation and Shelter-in-Place: Guidance for State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Partners.  The document draws upon the collective experience of those partners to provide relevant concepts, principals, and guidance as a resource for emergency managers and planners.

Evacuation and shelter-in-place protective actions are prompted by a variety of threats and hazards.  Incident-specific circumstances drive the relevant protective actions based on a community’s demographics, infrastructure, resources, authorities, and decision-making process.  Determining that an evacuation needs to take place is not an all-or-nothing approach.  Lessons learned from recent disasters, to include hurricanes, wildfires, and floods, have highlighted the value of enacting a zone-phased approach to evacuation and shelter-in-place, enabling jurisdictions to move as few people as necessary.  Sheltering-in-place populations that are not directly in harm’s way, rather than having them evacuate, can help jurisdictions reduce costs and resource requirements, and limit the negative impacts of evacuations, while promoting improved response and quicker re-entry and recovery.

To view the document and for additional webinar information, please visit https://www.fema.gov/plan.


FEMA Releases 2019 National Threat Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment

July 29, 2019

FEMA released the latest national Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA), which is the process to identify catastrophic threats and hazards, and associated consequences and the capabilities the nation needs to address those hazards.

FEMA designed the THIRA methodology to support collaboration between state and local governments, federal agencies, and other emergency management entities.  The new National THIRA relies on this same methodology to provide a holistic depiction of the nation’s readiness on all hazards, at all level of government. This common assessment will allow FEMA and other federal agencies to track progress over time and provide concrete answers in specific, measurable terms to the question: “How prepared is the nation?”

Link to the 2019 National Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA): Overview and Methodology.


USGS Fact Sheet  – USGS Emergency Response Resources

A USGS Emergency Response Resources Fact Sheet is available.   This is a quick reference guide to USGS response resources including:

  • real-time information for flooding, earthquakes, landslides, and volcanoes
  • flood and hurricane databases
  • geospatial data and services supporting emergency response
  • USGS offices supporting emergency response

Link to the fact sheet USGS Emergency Response Resources.