How does the government legally manage disasters?
With the election just one day away and the impact of hurricane Sandy still being felt across the eastern seaboard, many have began to wonder how the government legally manages disasters such as hurricane Sandy.
Government laws exist to provide states with federal aid in time of disasters, but federal aid can only be granted after a formal request by the states governor is made. Once the governor has made his report, the report is brought directly to the presidents’ attention, and from that point the president can either make a declaration of an emergency, or the declaration of a major disaster.
If the declaration of an emergency is made, the president legally can provide immediate aid to the area in a total of no more than five million dollars.
If the area is declared a disaster, the relief effort is then turned over to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.
Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy bring to mind government laws and major disasters. Legally, many questions were raised post Katrina. Many people in New Orleans were sent to other cities such as Houston to reside while New Orleans rebuilt. Many of them were displaced in these cities after FEMA informed them they were no longer going to receive assistance after December, 1st 2005. This weird law permanently displaced people and created a long way home for some.
There is some gray area in the inner workings of FEMA, but legally, they have the backing of government laws.
When the declaration of a major disaster is made, FEMA is allowed to implement a series of weird laws in order to aid in the recovery of both private, and public sectors. When the declaration of a major disaster is made, the government is in affect realizing that the damage is beyond the repair of local government, and federal aid is needed to bring the area back to relative homeostasis.
With the recent hurricane and the election a day away, there are many on the eastern seaboard wondering just exactly how the government manages disasters. And with the two opposing candidates facing many questions on how they view the government’s role in disaster relief, there is no question there is need for clarification on how disasters are managed by the government.