Tribes Can Now Request Emergency or Disaster Declaration Directly From the President
Earlier this week, President Obama signed into law the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013. The Act includes a provision that allows federally recognized tribal governments authority to request emergency or major disaster declaration directly from the president of the United States.
Prior to the amendment, the Stafford Act mandated that such requests could only be made by the governor of affected states. As a result, federally recognized tribes were excluded from making direct requests for federal assistance. Now, federally recognized tribes have the same status as states in seeking presidential requests for emergency or major disaster declarations as well as the federal relief associated with that declaration.
This provision strengthens the government-to-government relationship between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and tribes, and it will speed support to these communities during and following major disasters in Indian Country.