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Discussion Question

Presidential Declarations and Federal Assistance

According to the Stafford Act, one determining factor for issuing an emergency or major disaster declaration requires that the incident be beyond the state’s capacity to respond. However, several states have repeatedly received declarations for incidents within their capacity to respond. In January 2012, Massachusetts received a major disaster declaration for a snowstorm. Was this truly a major disaster? Is a snowstorm beyond the state’s capacity to respond? Marginal incidents comprise events that many believe do not require federal assistance.

Some have further argued that emergency and major disaster declarations have become an easy-to-use tool by presidents to curry political favor with constituents. Others have claimed that states have come to expect federal assistance for incidents that do not warrant federal assistance. As such, in too many instances federal assistance for emergencies and major disasters has become a form of entitlement for states and localities.

For this Discussion, review the media and Learning Resources for this week. Then consider the declaration process for emergencies and major disasters. Reflect on the pros and cons of federal governmental involvement in disaster assistance. Review the criteria that incidents must meet in order to classify as a major disaster. Select a disaster and research the role that the federal government plays with that disaster.

Post an explanation of the benefits and limitations of the federal government’s role in disaster assistance as it relates to the disaster you selected. Then explain whether you believe the criteria for disaster declarations have worked.

Justify your position with specific examples.

Be sure to use the Learning Resources and current literature to support your response.

Canton, L. G. (2007). Emergency management: Concepts and strategies for effective programs. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

  • Chapter 5, “Assessing Risk” (pp. 127–155)

Phillips, B. D. (2015). Disaster recovery (2nd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: Taylor & Francis Group.

  • Chapter 1, “Introduction” (pp. 1-30)
  • Chapter 2, “Conceptual, Theoretical, and Practical Approaches to Disaster Recovery” (pp. 31-58)

Sylves, R. (2015). Disaster policy and politics: Emergency management and homeland security (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: CQ Press.

  • Chapter 4, “Understanding Disaster Policy Through Presidential Disaster Declarations” (pp. 91-125)
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