How Arizona and federal agencies assist after natural disasters destroy homes (2023)

Arizona residents had to navigate a 2022 wildfire season that began early and charred thousands of acres on top of a monsoon season that was wetter than normal and caused floods.

At least 13 wildfiresburned more than 120,000 acres across the state, and Coconino County recorded at least 41 flood events during monsoon season. During and after these events, local and sometimes federal governments step in to help those affected. How they operate, however, can sometimes be confusing for those impacted.

Arizona doesn’t have a state-funded individual assistance program for people who have been affected by natural disasters, said Adriana Akinwande, human services coordinator for the Emergency Management Division of the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs.

However, individual counties can request help from DEMA if they are short on resources to help the community. Akinwande said counties usually offer robust assistance for community members, and DEMA is typically the agency thatconnects them with thoseresources.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency steps in to help when a disaster is declared by the President.

Here is how and when local and federal governments can help Arizonans after a natural disaster hits.

How Arizona counties help after a natural disaster hits

The Arizona Emergency Information Network website has information on each county’s office or department of emergency management on this website Many of these agencies, like the Pima and Coconino county offices, offer guidance on preparing before a natural disaster hits, especially in areas prone to wildfires or floods.

Matt McGlone, community outreach coordinator at the Pima County Office of Emergency Management, said in some disasters,building inspectors check properties and decide if a house is “condemned” — meaning no one can go inside—or if the damage isn’t that severe and people can still enter.

In any event, if someone’s property is affected by a natural disaster such as a wildfire, they should contact their insurance company, McGlone said.

Counties work with the state and set up a website or call center to direct people to resources. That is the case inCoconino County, according to public affairs director Trey Williams.

If a home is destroyed or damaged in a disaster, Williams said they ask people to call the center and give their contact information so that the county can set up a damage assessment.

The county has a website for floodpreparedness whichlinks to documents with guidance on what to do when returning home after a flood or wildfire.

Williams said in some situations the county can help property owners, especially if they are elderly or disabled, clean up their homes.

If an acute event, such as a mudslide, happens, Williams said the county works to help those who need emergency care or to evacuate people. However, he said the focus of the county’s resources is to be prepared for natural disasters.

The county also partners with organizations like the Red Cross, the United Way or the Flagstaff Family Food Center so people can access more resources and have a shelter when disasters hit. These organizations may also help people whoare not covered by flood insurance.

How the federal government assists

To get federal assistance after a disaster strikes, a disaster has to be declared by the president, according to Brandi Richard Thompson, a spokesperson for FEMA. The following is the process to get a disaster declared according to FEMA:

  1. The state identifies a disaster.
  2. A damage assessment is made.
  3. Government officials review the damage and determine the extent of the disaster and its impact.
  4. The governor decides if the state has enough resources to respond to the disaster.
  5. If not, they determine the type and amount of federal assistance they need.
  6. The state, tribe or territory submits a major disaster declaration request.
  7. The president reviews the request and determines whether the state and local government will need federal assistance to recover from the disaster.
  8. A disaster is declared.

The types of declarations include emergency declarations, major disaster declarations and Fire Management Assistance Grant declarations.

How Arizona and federal agencies assist after natural disasters destroy homes (3)

Emergency declarations

In emergency declarations, the federal government can help local governments with up to $5 million in emergency services to protectlives and public health, or to lessen the threat of a catastrophe in the country, according to FEMA’s website. The local government must submit a request within 30 days of the situation and show that federal assistance is needed to protect the public, property, or to lessen a threat.

The president can declare an emergency when they determine that federal assistance is needed.

Under an emergency declaration, debris removal and emergency protective measures may be authorized to assist the public.

The Individuals and Household Program may also be part of an emergency declaration, although it is rare, according to FEMA’s website. In this program, individuals and households affected by a disaster that are uninsured or underinsuredcan apply for assistance.

Major disaster declarations

The President can declare a major disaster for any natural event that has caused damage that the local government cannot respond to completely. These events include hurricanes, storms, landslides, fires and floods, among others.

The governor of the affected state or a tribe'schief executive has to submit a request to the president within 30 days of the disaster.

“The request must be based upon a finding that the situation is beyond the capability of the State and affected local governments or Indian tribal government and that supplemental federal assistance is necessary,” FEMA’s website states.

Under a major disaster declaration, assistance may be provided to individuals or households.

The assistance could include the Individuals and Households Program which can provide funds for temporary housing, a temporary housing space, funds to repair a residence, funds to help homeowners repair or rebuild stronger homes and funds for serious needs approved by the local government.

Eligibility requirements for this program can be found in this website

To apply to this program, people should take photos of their damaged property or belongings and make a list of damaged items.People also need a proof of ID, proof of occupancy or ownership and an insurance determination letter.

Those who want to apply can do it at this website, with the FEMA smartphone app, by phone calling at 800-621-3362, by visiting a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center, by mailing the application to FEMA P.O. Box 10055, Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055 or faxxing it to "Attn: FEMA 800-827-8112."

Individual assistance may also include a crisis counseling program, disaster case management, disaster unemployment assistance, disaster legal services and disaster supplemental nutrition assistance program.

On Sept. 2, FEMA announced President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community due to the severe storms that affected the area on July 17-18. Residents or business owners who had losses in this area can apply for assistance at

This assistance may include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans for uninsured property losses and other programs to help in the recovery efforts. Funding is also available for the repair or replacement of facilities damages by the storms and for hazard mitigation measures.

Fire Management Assistance Grants

State, local and tribal governments can also apply to a Fire Management Assistance Grant to receive help with the mitigation, management and control of fires on public or privately owned forests or grasslands. Request for this assistance is submitted when there is a threat of a major disaster.

Once any disaster is declared, FEMA starts working with local authorities to support the disaster response and help communities recover and rebuild.

Reach breaking news reporter Angela Cordoba Perez at oron Twitter @AngelaCordobaP.

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What federal government agency helps with natural disasters? ›

When a disaster is declared, the Federal government, led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), responds at the request of, and in support of, States, Tribes, Territories, and Insular Areas and local jurisdictions impacted by a disaster.

What are 2 government agencies responsible for helping after natural disasters? ›

The highest level of federal involvement is with a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration. If the President makes such a declaration, FEMA and federal agencies initiate long-term plans to help a community rebuild and recover.

How does the federal government help areas recover from disasters such as hurricanes floods and tornados? › The Disaster Assistance Improvement Program's (DAIP) mission is to provide disaster survivors with information, support, services, and a means to access and apply for disaster assistance through joint data-sharing efforts between federal, tribal, state, local, and private sector partners.

Does the federal government pay for natural disasters? ›

The federal government has provided billions of dollars to communities recovering from disasters. However, state and local officials leading recovery efforts have long expressed frustration with the federal approach to disaster recovery.

What is the most FEMA will pay out? ›

While FEMA offers up to $36,000 for each eligible household, the average grant payment is around $5,000. SBA disaster loans: If you need more financial assistance than FEMA provides, you can apply for a disaster loan with the Small Business Administration.

How does the Department of Homeland Security help with natural disasters? ›

Preparedness (Prevention, Protection, Mitigation)

Protection: This mission area focuses on the ability to secure and protect a community against a variety of threats and hazards. Mitigation: This mission area focuses on the ability to reduce the loss of life and property by lessening the impact of a disaster.

How long does it take FEMA to respond to a disaster? ›

How long will it take to get FEMA/State disaster help? If you are eligible for help, you should receive a U.S. Treasury/State check or notification of a deposit to your bank account within about ten days of the inspector's visit. Other types of assistance may be provided later, based on specific eligibility and need.

What is the role of FEMA in responding to a natural disaster? ›

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the agency that promotes disaster mitigation and readiness and coordinates response and recovery following the declaration of a major disaster.

What does the government do to help after a tornado? ›

FEMA assesses building damages and identifies lessons learned after tornadoes; funds research on safe room design and construction standards; develops best practices and technical manuals on safe rooms and community shelters; and produces public education materials on tornado preparedness and response.

How does the state government respond to natural disasters? ›

The Governor can proclaim a State of Emergency when the resources of a local jurisdiction have been exceeded, such as when a large flood occurs. Similar to the Director's Concurrence, this declaration makes financial assistance available to repair and replace damaged public facilities.

What is the federal government's responsibility during the disaster response? ›

The Federal Emergency Management Agency coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.

What gives federal help for people wiped out by earthquake or floods? ›

FEMA financially assists local government with flood prevention efforts as well as in preparation for earthquakes and other disasters.

Which states get the most disaster relief? ›

More States With the Most Federal Disaster Aid
  • New York: $16.06 billion.
  • Louisiana: $5.57 billion.
  • Texas: $3.86 billion.
  • New Jersey: $3.57 billion.
  • Florida: $2.61 billion.
  • California: $1.7 billion.
  • North Carolina: $716 million.
  • South Carolina: $555 million.
Oct 13, 2020

Who pays for natural disaster damage? ›

However, the public also picks up a large part of the tab through local and federal disaster funds, as well as homeowner insurance policies that pay for much of the rebuilding afterward.

How does FEMA decide who gets money? ›

FEMA typically verifies an applicant's identity at the time of application through an automated public records search and through a series of questions associated with the applicant's credit file or public records.

Which state gets the most FEMA aid? ›

FEMA has allotted more than $45 billion toward disaster relief and financial aid since 2017, of which more than 80% has been used. $10 billion remains unspent, free to be included in future budgets. Texas has received the most money from FEMA, totaling more than $7.6 billion in federal aid.

What happens when FEMA runs out of money? ›

No Money For Communities, Individuals

"If they don't replenish the fund, it's going to be the first time in history that the disaster relief fund has hit a zero balance," Scanlon says. "And what that means is FEMA is basically going to have to shut down.

What states receive the most from FEMA? ›

Since 2017, FEMA has earmarked more than $1 billion apiece for four states: Texas, Florida, California and North Carolina. These states received more funding than any others. Most states spend most of their FEMA funding.

What five services does the Department of Homeland Security provide? ›

Under the Secretary's leadership, DHS is responsible for counterterrorism, cybersecurity, aviation security, border security, port security, maritime security, administration and enforcement of our immigration laws, protection of our national leaders, protection of critical infrastructure, cybersecurity, detection of ...

Which agency helps with disaster responses? ›

FEMA is the federal coordinator for the operational and logistical disaster response needed to save and sustain lives, minimize suffering, and protect property in a timely and effective manner in communities that become overwhelmed by disasters.

Which department works to protect residents from natural disasters and harm? ›

The California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) is responsible for the State's emergency and disaster response services, including activities necessary to respond to and recover from natural disasters and other emergencies.

Why is FEMA claim denied? ›

FEMA could not verify your identity. FEMA must be able to verify your identity with a valid Social Security number. By verifying identity, FEMA prevents fraud and ensures you receive eligible disaster assistance.

What situations does FEMA respond to? ›

FEMA responds to all declared domestic disasters and emergencies, whether natural or man-made. Take steps to prepare yourself and your family for weather hazards by visiting

How long is a FEMA deployment? ›

On average, most response deployments are for 2-3 weeks, while some last up to 30 days. Response deployments can only occur once the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issues a Mission Assignment (MA) detailing the scope of work (SOW).

What is the difference between emergency and disaster FEMA? ›

Emergency: local effects managed with local resources. Examples: transport crashes, local floods, building collapses, etc. Disaster: Local or regional effects, managed with local or regional resources. National resources may also be used, but damaging effects are not national.

What abilities and powers does FEMA have in an emergency? ›

FEMA may provide accelerated Federal assistance and support where necessary to save lives, prevent human suffering, or mitigate severe damage, even in the absence of a specific request.

What are the 5 stages of disaster management? ›

Prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery are the five steps of Emergency Management.

What to do if your house is destroyed by a tornado? ›

If a tornado damages your home, contact your insurance company immediately to get the ball rolling. Take a home inventory with photos and videos of the damage inside and outside of your home, and save all receipts for expenses incurred. All documentation of your losses should be submitted during the claims process.

What is the National disaster Response Plan? ›

The NDRP is a strategic plan that provides general directions for all the agencies and networks involved in disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM).

What are the 6 phases of disaster management? ›

Q. S1: Disaster management includes planning and intervention to lessen the impact of disasters. S2: Prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery are part of the disaster management process.

What does local government do for natural disasters? ›

The local government maintains control of all assets used in the response and recovery efforts, regardless of the source of those assets. Local governments must plan and prepare for this role with the support of the State and Federal governments.

Which government entity can elect to deal directly with the federal government for Federal disaster assistance quizlet? ›

For Federal disaster assistance, tribal governments can elect to deal directly with the Federal Government. Coordination with voluntary agencies is generally limited to the local level.

What is the state to state system for sharing resources during an emergency or disaster? ›

What is EMAC? EMAC is a nationally adopted state-to-state mutual aid compact that facilitates the sharing of resources across state lines during emergencies. EMAC became Public Law (104-321) when ratified by the United States Congress in 1996.

Which level of government is responsible for emergency response? ›

In an emergency, the State Office ensures a coordinated response through the combined efforts of local government, State and Federal agencies, and private sector organizations. State governments have a strong mandate to prepare for and respond to disasters.

Who is the leader of the federal response to a disaster? ›

The agency's primary purpose is to coordinate the response to a disaster that has occurred in the United States and that overwhelms the resources of local and state authorities.
Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Agency overview
Agency executiveDeanne Criswell, Administrator
Parent departmentU.S. Department of Homeland Security
8 more rows

What are the three major types of disaster aid programs available through federal assistance? ›

Basic disaster assistance from the Federal government falls into three categories: assistance for individuals and businesses, public assistance, and hazard mitigation assistance.

How does the government deal with the aftermath of an earthquake? ›

When the president declares an area struck by an earthquake to be a major disaster area, FEMA swings into action. A coordinating officer is appointed, who sets up a disaster field office to manage the response and recovery, including rescue and small loans and grants to businesses or individuals.

What is the safest state from natural disaster in us? ›

Counties in New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah have the lowest risk of environmental peril, according to a recent study from CoreLogic, a real estate data firm. The study analyzed the risk of natural disasters over the next 30 years, to the nation's 154 million properties.

What state is the least likely to be hit by a natural disaster? ›

WalletHub ranks Maine lowest among the states for overall impact from natural disasters. Only Alaska and Hawaii have had fewer billion-dollar disasters since 1980.

Does FEMA money count as income? ›

Disaster assistance grants are not subject to income tax, self-employment tax, or employment taxes such as Social Security, Medicare and federal unemployment taxes. No withholding is required.

What is the role of the FEMA? ›

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the federal agency responsible for leading the Nation's efforts to prepare for, protect and mitigate against, respond to, and recover from the impacts of natural disasters and man-made incidents or terrorist events.

What is the difference between FEMA and Homeland Security? ›

FEMA is a federal agency within the U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The FEMA administrator reports directly to the DHS Secretary. The administrator also has a direct line of access to the U.S. President during periods of disaster response.

Which federal department created an emergency disaster plan? ›

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security, initially created under President Jimmy Carter by Presidential Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1978 and implemented by two Executive Orders on April 1, 1979.

What is FEMA stand for? ›

The mission of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that, as a Nation, we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

What are 5 things FEMA does? ›

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) mission is to support the citizens and first responders to promote that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

What is FEMA and how do they help people? ›

FEMA's Individuals and Households Program (IHP) provides financial and direct services to eligible individuals and households affected by a disaster, who have uninsured or underinsured necessary expenses and serious needs. Assistance for individuals and households.

Which state uses FEMA the most? ›

During this time, Texas has received the most money from FEMA, totaling more than $7.6 billion in federal aid and spending more than $6.2 billion. Along with Texas, the states most likely to get FEMA money are most likely to be affected by strong disasters, such as Florida, California and North Carolina.

What is the role of the federal government in disaster management? ›

The Federal Emergency Management Agency coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror. FEMA can trace its beginnings to the Congressional Act of 1803.

What does FEMA protect? ›

Protection: The capabilities necessary to secure the homeland against acts of terrorism and manmade or natural disasters. Mitigation: The capabilities necessary to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters.

How do you recover from a natural disaster? ›

Let your local officials know of any damages you may have, and what immediate assistance you may need. Local officials and voluntary organizations are usually the best options for immediate needs such as food and shelter.

What do some states provide for emergency situations? ›

In some States, after a State emergency declaration, the Governor may establish economic control over resources and services such as food, wages, clothing, and shelter in the affected area. Under a State emergency declaration, governors typically are empowered to mobilize the National Guard and direct its efforts.

Why is FEMA criticized? ›

FEMA was heavily criticized for ineffective management of the situation. The criticism prompted Congress to create a bipartisan committee to investigate. The committee determined that DHS and FEMA had inadequate numbers of personnel trained for disaster relief. It had other criticisms as well.

What are the three types of disasters FEMA? ›

This dataset lists all official FEMA Disaster Declarations, beginning with the first disaster declaration in 1953 and features all three disaster declaration types: major disaster, emergency, and fire management assistance.

How does FEMA work after disaster? ›

To meet the needs of disaster survivors, FEMA partners with other governmental and non-governmental agencies. FEMA works with the U.S. Small Business Administration to offer low-interest disaster loans to homeowners and renters in a declared disaster area. You do not need to own a business to apply for a disaster loan.


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