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Disaster Declaration Process

During any man-made or natural disaster, a bottom to top utilization of emergency responders occurs.  This is the process:


  • Local Emergency Managers Respond
    • If local resources are exhausted, local elected officials can declare a local state of emergency and request assistance from the State.
  • State Resources Deployed
    • If state resources are exhausted:
      • Governor declares a state of emergency
      • Governor requests assistance from the federal government with Preliminary Damage Assessments or a Presidential major Disaster or Emergency Declaration
  • Federal Resources Deployed
    • President issues a Major Disaster or an Emergency Declaration

The governor may request a federal disaster declaration, which is formally submitted to the regional FEMA office.

When deciding whether to recommend a federal disaster declaration, FEMA will consider the following:

  • Number of homes destroyed or with major damage
  • Extent damage is dispersed or concentrated
  • Impact on the infrastructure or critical facilities
  • Imminent threats to public health and safety
  • Impacts to essential government services and functions
  • Level of insurance coverage in place for homeowners and public facilities
  • Assistance available from other sources
  • State and local resource commitments from previous, undeclared events
  • Frequency of disaster events over recent time period

FEMA does not provide assistance until there is a Presidential Declaration for Disaster to your state and county in particular.

Q:  How will I know if a disaster declaration has been issued?
A:  A list of Disaster Declarations is available on FEMA's website, and is searchable by state.  You may also contact your local Emergency Management Agency.

Q:  Who do I call to get information?
A:  You may contact your local Emergency Management Agency for further information.  If there is a Disaster Declaration and you need to report damage, choose an option listed below.

Q:  Who do I call to report damage?
A:  You can apply online at
     You can call by phone 1-800-621-3362
     You can also apply by phone via TTY 1-800-462-7585