FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate recently testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs regarding emergency preparedness for natural disasters in native communities. Fugate said has updated and strengthened its tribal policy signed in June 2010 that details the collaborative engagement between the agency and 565 federally recognized tribes across the country.
Fugate testified that, in accordance, FEMA will identify and eliminate or diminish procedural impediments to working directly with tribal governments. In particular, it states that the agency will review portions of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief & Emergency Assistance Act to determine how FEMA can work more directly with local tribal communities.
“In the policy, FEMA commits to nation-to-nation relationships, collaboration with tribes on FEMA policy development with tribal implications, and to minimizing the imposition of unfunded mandates upon American Indian tribes,” he testified.
Fugate said FEMA also hired 10 new permanent, full-time employees as intergovernmental tribal affairs specialists to work out of each of the FEMA regions. This new group works directly with all federally recognized tribes within a region to help the communities develop disaster-mitigation plans and enhance emergency-management capabilities. They also serve as ambassadors for the agency and the federal government within the tribal communities “by providing support in navigating technical requirements and policies,” he said.
Fugate noted that the agency also sponsors a comprehensive training program through the Emergency Management Institute in Emmitsburg, Md., with four courses targeted to the tribal community. In addition, in 2010 Tribal Homeland Security Grant Program from less than $2 million to $10 million. The grant is offered to tribal nations to prevent and to recover from potential terrorist attacks and other hazards. Tribes also are recipients of DHS/FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds, Emergency Operations Center funds, Operation Stonegarden Funds and Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant funds, he said.raised the nationwide total for the
“Efforts to enhance FEMA's relationships with tribal nations are ongoing and FEMA is committed to working closely with this important community,” he said. “In the coming weeks, FEMA will announce a new campaign for FEMA's Ready.gov campaign called Ready Indian Country.”