Revision 23-1; Effective Jan. 31, 2023

5100 Introduction

Revision 23-1; Effective Jan. 31, 2023 

When a disaster occurs, ESP staff immediately prepare for the implementation of the ONA provision of the IHP. A major disaster declaration by the president is required for activation of the ONA. FEMA and TDEM manage the initial activities in response to a disaster. HHSC involvement is described in the following sequence of events.

5200 Sequence of Events

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

5210 Initial Disaster Response

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

During a disaster incident, local fire and police services are involved in search and rescue activities. Depending on the nature of the disaster, state and federal organizations may also be involved in search and rescue.

Immediately after a disaster incident, local officials begin initial damage assessment activities. The American Red Cross also begins initial assessment efforts because volunteer agencies are usually the first organizations to begin recovery efforts.

5220 TDEM iSTAT Survey

Revision 23-1; Effective Jan. 31, 2023 

At the outset of an incident, the TDEM launches the Individual State of Texas Assessment Tools (iSTAT) for damage evaluation and reporting. iSTAT provides decision makers in emergencies with both quantitative and qualitative damage assessment information. iSTAT is designed to deploy early in a disaster impacted area to gather Initial Damage Assessment information on the scope and size of an event from the public. Sharing pertinent details and photos of damages assists emergency management officials in quickly determining the severity of a disaster and if federal assistance thresholds have been met. The iSTAT data is used to determine the need for a joint Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) with local, state and federal partners to confirm the level of damages and to facilitate any potential funding streams that may be available depending on the disaster.  

Joint PDAs may be conducted virtually, in-person or hybrid depending on scope of the disaster. In addition to these methods, TDEM has the capability to deploy aerial support for Initial and Preliminary Damage Assessments. Aerial PDA methodology is preferred for large areas that have been heavily impacted and are clearly visible, such as hurricanes and flood waters that have not receded. 

Disaster Declaration Process – Pursuant to 44 CFR Section 206.36(b), a request for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration is generated by the governor’s office and confirms the situation is of such severity that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local government. 

Data collected from the iSTAT survey supports the determination of whether federal assistance is necessary to supplement the efforts and available resources, and to activate the FEMA IHP.

There is no set threshold number of homes impacted to grant a disaster declaration for the IHP. To be eligible for the IHP, the state must demonstrate the primary factors outlined in the Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) 44 CFR Section 206.48 have been met or exceeded in the disaster-affected area and for the state. In short, those factors include:

(1) State fiscal capacity and resource availability.
(2) Uninsured home and personal property losses (principal factor for Individuals and Households Program).
(3) Disaster impacted population profile. 
(4) Impact to community infrastructure.
(5) Casualties.
(6) Disaster related unemployment.

While there is no set threshold for recommending implementation of the IHP, the following averages may prove useful to larger states like Texas:

  • Number of homes estimated major damage or destroyed = 801
  • Number of Housing Assistance applications approved = 4,679
  • Number of Other Needs Assistance approvals = 2,071
  • Dollar amount of ONA assistance = $4.6 million
  • Combined assistance = $14.1 million

The IHP consists of Housing Assistance administered by FEMA and ONA administered by HHSC. Other recovery services, such as volunteer assistance from nonprofit organizations or disaster loan assistance (available for both individuals and businesses) from the Small Business Administration (SBA), do not depend on a declaration by the president. These agencies determine and implement their own criteria for providing recovery assistance to the affected community.

5230 Governor's Request

Revision 23-1; Effective Jan. 31, 2023

In Texas, TDEM staff prepare the governor's request for a presidential disaster declaration. If the governor asks the president to declare an area a major disaster area, the governor must provide documentation of the damages and describe the state's plan for recovery operations. The governor's request must indicate that the state:

  • will implement the state emergency management plan;
  • has disaster-caused needs beyond state and local capabilities; and
  • will commit reasonable expenditure of state and local funds.

The governor's request is sent to FEMA regional headquarters in Denton, Texas.

5240 FEMA Regional Office Recommendation

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

FEMA regional staff make a recommendation, which is sent to FEMA national office in Washington, D.C. The recommendation must indicate that there are disaster-caused needs and available resources to meet those needs. The recommendation states whether aid available under the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, Public Law 106-390, is required.

5250 FEMA National Office Recommendation

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

The FEMA national office makes a recommendation to the President. The recommendations by state and regional federal officials are analyzed and considered. Additional information is obtained, if needed. If a declaration is recommended, FEMA prepares the documents for the President's signature.

5260 Major Disaster Declaration

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

The President must determine if the disaster caused damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant major disaster assistance under Public Law 106-390, the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000. Major disaster assistance goes beyond the local jurisdiction's emergency services. It supplements the efforts and available resources of state and local governments and disaster relief organizations in alleviating the damage, loss, hardship or suffering the disaster caused. Damage to public and private property is considered.

A major disaster declaration by the President activates the Federal Assistance to Individuals and Households (IHP) Program, and its two provisions, Housing Assistance and Other Needs Assistance.

5270 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

A request for a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) SNAP (formerly emergency food stamp) declaration is separate from a request for the presidential declaration of a major disaster. Therefore, HHSC staff must be prepared at regional and state office levels to survey and determine the need for requesting both USDA and presidential declarations.