Thursday, December 8, 2011

Support Legislative Change to Allow Tribal Governments to Directly Apply for Federal Disaster Aid

Senator Jack Jackson Jr., D-2
December 8, 2011

State Capitol, Phoenix – Senator Jack Jackson Jr. supports the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) call to amend federal law to allow tribal governments to directly apply for federal disaster aid.

In a statement released yesterday, FEMA announced that it supports amending federal law to allow federally recognized tribal governments to make disaster declaration requests directly to the president. Currently, only states – through the governor – can make these requests.

According to the FEMA statement:
“Amending the law would acknowledge the sovereignty of federally recognized tribes and the trust relationship of the United States, and enhance FEMA’s working relationship with tribal governments. Such a change would be another step in fulfilling the promise of a presidential memo issued by President Obama to improve the administration’s support for tribal governments. Such a legislative change to the Stafford Act would allow a tribal government to choose whether to directly request a separate declaration or to receive assistance, as they do presently, under a declaration for a state."
FEMA’s support of this change to the Stafford Act would not lessen the Arizona Division of Emergency Management’s commitment to serving Arizona’s Tribes in time of emergency.
“As we saw in last summer’s devastating floods on the Havasupai Reservation, and having personally observed the Arizona Division of Emergency Management’s recent Vigilant Guard emergency preparedness exercise, the importance of eliminating hurdles to emergency response is crucial,” said Sen. Jackson.
“Eliminating this one step in the process will not only create a stronger relationship between tribal governments and FEMA, but will help ensure quick emergency responses for our isolated tribal communities.”

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