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About Disasters

The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) coordinates the state emergency management program, which is intended to ensure the state and its local governments respond to and recover from emergencies and disasters, and implement plans and programs to help prevent or lessen the impact of emergencies and disasters.

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5207 (the Stafford Act) §401 states in part that: “All requests for a declaration by the President that a major disaster exists shall be made by the Governor of the affected State.”

Pre-Disaster Emergency Declarations

The Texas Governor may request an emergency declaration in advance or anticipation of the imminent impact of an incident that threatens such destruction as could result in a major disaster. Such requests must meet all of the statutory and regulatory requirements for an emergency declaration request. Requests must demonstrate the existence of critical emergency protective measure needs prior to impact are beyond the capability of the State of Texas and identify specific unmet emergency needs that can be met through Direct Federal Assistance (DFA). Such DFA may include, but is not limited to, personnel, equipment, supplies, and evacuation assistance. Pre-positioning of assets generally does not require a declaration. Assistance made available under a pre-disaster emergency declaration will typically be Category B (emergency protective measures), limited to DFA. FEMA may require damage assessments and/or verified cost estimates if additional types of assistance are requested.

Emergency Declarations with Federal Primary Responsibility

When an emergency exists for which the primary responsibility rests with the Federal government, the President may declare an emergency without a request from the Texas Governor. Such an emergency declaration does not prevent the Governor from subsequently requesting a major disaster declaration for other unmet needs caused by the event.

Major Disaster Declarations

The President can declare a major disaster for any natural event, including any hurricane, tornado, storm, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, or drought, or, regardless of cause, fire, flood, or explosion, that the President determines has caused damage of such severity that it is beyond the combined capabilities of state and local governments to respond. A major disaster declaration provides a wide range of federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work.

Preliminary Damage Assessment

If it is apparent that a Presidential disaster declaration may be necessary to assist in the recovery of the impacted area, TDEM will coordinate with the FEMA Region 6 office and request a joint Federal, State/Tribal Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA). Local government representatives should be included, if possible. Together, the team will conduct a thorough assessment of the impacted area to determine the extent of the disaster, its impact on individuals and public facilities, and the types of federal assistance that may be needed. This information is included in the Governor’s request to show that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and the affected local governments or Indian tribal government and that supplemental federal assistance is necessary.