Long-Term Community Recovery

Disaster recovery typically occurs in phases, with initial efforts dedicated to helping those affected meet immediate needs for housing, food and water. As homes and businesses are repaired, people return to work and communities continue with cleanup and rebuilding efforts. Many government agencies including Pima County Office of Emergency Management, voluntary organizations such as the Red Cross, and the private sector cooperate to provide assistance and support.

Some individuals, families and communities that are especially hard hit by a disaster may need more time and specialized assistance to recover, and a more formalized structure to support them. Specialized assistance may be needed to address unique needs that are not satisfied by routine disaster assistance programs. It may also be required for very complex restoration or rebuilding challenges. Long-term community recovery addresses these ongoing needs by taking a holistic, long-term view of critical recovery needs, and coordinating the mobilization of resources at the federal, state, and community levels.

Oftentimes, committees, task forces or other means of collaboration are formed with the goals of developing specific plans for long-term community recovery, identifying and addressing unmet or specialized needs of individuals and families, locating funding sources, and providing coordination of the many sources of help that may be available to assist. Some collaborations focus on the community level and rely on the expertise of community planning and economic development professionals. Other collaborations focus on individual and family recovery and are coordinated by social service and volunteer groups. All such efforts hope to lay the groundwork for wise decisions about the appropriate use of resources and rebuilding efforts.

Under the National Response Framework, Emergency Support Function (ESF) #14 Long-Term Community Recovery coordinates the resources of federal departments and agencies to support the long-term recovery of States and communities, and to reduce or eliminate risk from future incidents. While consideration of long-term recovery is imbedded in the routine administration of the disaster assistance and mitigation programs of Pima County Office of Emergency Management and other local government agencies, some incidents, due to the severity of the impacts and the complexity of the recovery, will require considerable interagency coordination and technical support.

ESF #14 efforts are driven by local priorities, focusing on permanent restoration of infrastructure, housing, and the local economy. When activated, ESF #14 provides the coordination mechanisms for the Federal government to:
  • Assess the social and economic consequences in the impacted area and coordinate Federal efforts to address long-term community recovery issues resulting from an Incident of National Significance;
  • Advise on the long-term community recovery implications of response activities, the transition from response to recovery in field operations, and facilitate recovery decision-making across ESFs;
  • Work with local, and tribal governments; NGOs; and private-sector organizations to conduct comprehensive market disruption and loss analysis and develop a forward looking market-based comprehensive long-term recovery plan for the affected community;
  • Identify appropriate State and Federal programs and agencies to support implementation of the long-term community recovery plan, ensure coordination, and identify gaps in resources available;
  • Avoid duplication of assistance, coordinate to the extent possible program application processes and planning requirements to streamline assistance, and identify and coordinate resolution of policy and program issues; and
  • Determine/identify responsibilities for recovery activities, and provide a vehicle to maintain continuity in program delivery among County departments and agencies, and with local and tribal governments and other involved parties, to ensure follow-through of recovery and hazard mitigation efforts.

There are two main branches of assistance available through the Pima County Office of Emergency Management and Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs during State Declared Disasters.

Individual Assistance

Disaster impacts vary in magnitude. Damage to personal property, homes, and lives can range from small events that are addressed locally to large events that require resources from the federal government. It is important for disaster affected communities to understand that within this range Individual Assistance differs based on the existence or non-existence of disaster declarations and on the capabilities of service and resource providers at the time of the event. These factors determine the sequence of service delivery for short and long-term recovery.

When emergencies and disasters require evacuation and sheltering you should always listen to and follow instructions and guidance from local officials, emergency management and response personnel. They will detail health and safety information specific to your community and the event. It is important to register with the shelter available to your community even if you do not plan to stay there. Individual Assistance is easier to provide and access if whereabouts and unmet needs are known.

If you have personal insurance, it is an important first step to notify the company and insurance agent to report damages and losses. Insurance is the primary source of recovery assistance.

Throughout your recovery, monitor local radio, television reports and print media for information about what assistance is available, where to get it and important dates and timelines. If a State of Arizona Individual Assistance Service Center is established you may find your unmet needs are addressed by service and resource providers that are co-located and easily accessible there.

If the President makes Individual Assistance available through a major disaster declaration, the first step for individuals, households, and businesses that require assistance is to register with FEMA. Additional information and assistance from government agencies and non-governmental organizations can be found in a Disaster Recovery Center established in declared counties.

Public Assistance

The Public Assistance Program provides support to communities and local governments when recovering from any State declared disaster. Recovery activities help a community return to a "new normal" following a disaster. This support begins with damage identification and assessment immediately following an event and continues with providing financial assistance in rebuilding public infrastructure.

The Governor may proclaim a state of emergency after a political subdivision has passed a resolution stating that an emergency exists within their jurisdiction(s) AND have been able to demonstrate that the incident is above and beyond their capability to recover from without assistance from the State. The Governor may provide Public Assistance to the affected Political Subdivision(s) of the state (counties, cities, towns, state agencies). The Governor’s Emergency Fund is allocated $4 million dollars annually to cover the costs of emergencies and disasters. The Arizona Division of Emergency Management (ADEM) Recovery Section administers this fund.

When a disaster is beyond the capability of the State and local governments, the Governor will request federal assistance from FEMA through the President of the United States.

The objective of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Public Assistance (PA) Grant Program is to provide assistance to State, Tribal and local governments, and certain types of Private Nonprofit organizations so that communities can quickly respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies declared by the President.

Through the PA Program, FEMA provides supplemental Federal disaster grant assistance for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and the repair, replacement, or restoration of disaster-damaged, publicly owned facilities and the facilities of certain Private Non-Profit (PNP) organizations. The PA Program also encourages protection of these damaged facilities from future events by providing assistance for hazard mitigation measures during the recovery process.

The Federal share of assistance is not less than 75% of the eligible cost for emergency measures and permanent restoration. The grantee (usually the State) determines how the non-Federal share (up to 25%) is split with the sub-grantees (eligible applicants). 

FEMA has published the Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide (PAPPG) which replaces many of the individual Public Assistance resources previously available.
The recovery process for a single event is not complete until all work has been completed, inspected, documentation audited and final payment disbursed. Once the recovery process for a single event is complete the declared disaster is terminated.

When a State disaster occurs, a 20 step process is followed, in order to assist impacted communities. Additional detailed information regarding the process can be found in FEMA's Disaster Assistance Guidebook.
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