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Why is it important to declare a disaster?

A Federal Disaster declaration means officials have decided the situation is beyond the state’s ability to respond adequately and federal assistance is needed

HARTFORD, Conn. — We hear a lot about the president declaring a disaster area after a storm or an earthquake, but what does that mean?

A Federal Disaster Declaration means the governor or tribal leader has decided the situation is beyond the state’s ability to respond adequately and federal assistance is needed.  

That assistance provides a wide range of federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work. One of the requirements of permanent work that is done after the storm includes the provision the work would prevent similar damage in the future.

“Hazard mitigation is any sustainable action that reduces or eliminates long-term risk to people and property from future disasters. Mitigation planning breaks the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction and repeated damage. Hazard mitigation includes long-term solutions that reduce the impact of disasters in the future,” according to the FEMA website

Types of assistance provided by the federal government according to FEMA:

Individual Assistance - Assistance to individuals and households, which may include:

  • Individuals and Households Program;
  • Crisis Counseling Program
  • Disaster Case Management
  • Disaster Unemployment Assistance
  • Disaster Legal Services
  • Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

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Public Assistance - Assistance to State, Tribal, and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities, which may include the following Categories:

  • Debris removal
  • Emergency protective measures
  • Roads and bridges
  • Water control facilities
  • Buildings and equipment
  • Utilities
  • Parks, recreational and other facilities

FEMA's hazard mitigation assistance provides funding for eligible mitigation measures that reduce disaster losses. It also:

  • Reduces the vulnerability of communities to disasters and their effects.
  • Promotes individual and community safety and their ability to adapt to changing conditions and withstand and rapidly recover from disruption due to emergencies (resilience).
  • Promotes community vitality after a disaster.
  • Lessens response and recovery resource requirements after a disaster.
  • Results in safer communities that are less reliant on external financial assistance.

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