What is a Disaster Declaration?
A Disaster Declaration is a formal statement by a jurisdiction that a disaster or emergency exceeds the response and/or recovery capabilities. Although a declaration is commonly addressed after a disaster, a declaration may be made if a disaster is found to be imminent.
Emergency Management takes a "bottom-up" approach to response and recovery in the United States and can tailor a disaster declaration to include only areas impacted by the disaster. The declaration process moves through each level of government (county, state, and federal) as resources and capabilities are taxed.
The issuance of a local or state Disaster Declaration allows public officials to exercise emergency powers to preserve life, property, and public health following a disaster as indicated in the Texas Government Code Ch. 418. Some of the emergency powers include:
- Ordering evacuation of a disaster threatened or impacted area;
- Control access to an area following a disaster;
- Hold individuals liable for the cost of rescue efforts if they ignore mandatory evacuations;
- Temporarily suspend certain regulations and deadlines;
- Temporarily disarm individuals during the state of disaster; and
- Request federal financial assistance for recovery projects in the impacted disaster area.
However, most often, declarations are sought so that federal financial assistance can be obtained for both individuals and local and state jurisdictions in an impacted area to begin the process of recovery.