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Declaration Process

All disasters begin and end at the local level (Declaration Process). When an event occurs, the local community or county determines whether or not to declare a disaster at that level. When community leaders determine that the event exceeds the local ability to handle without additional assistance from the State (or federal government), they can request a Declaration for a State-Level Emergency by submitting, within 14 days of the start of the event, an Application for Assistance to the Director of the Division of Emergency Management under the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA/EM).

A Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) is required to substantiate the disaster assistance request(s). DEMA/EM’s Public Assistance Branch coordinates with local officials to validate the PDA performed by the political subdivisions. Based upon  the information obtained in the PDA and validated by DEMA/EM, the Director then submits a recommendation to the Governor on whether a Declaration for a State-Level Emergency is justified. The Director may also, if certain requirements are met, recommend that the Governor request a federal Emergency or Major Disaster Declaration. It is during this time that the Incident Period is established within the Declaration(s). The Incident Period is the time interval during which the Damage caused by the event is actually incurred.

Upon issuing a Declaration for a State-Level Emergency, the Governor may also activate the State’s Public Assistance program by directing an initial amount of up to $200,000 in order to provide reimbursement assistance to affected political subdivisions for eligible costs incurred during the event. If the event requires more than $200,000, then the State Emergency Council is convened to allocate the additional funds.     

The Governor’s Emergency Fund is allocated $4 million annually to cover the costs of declared State-Level Emergency events. The DEMA/EM Public Assistance Branch administers this fund. Arizona does not have a disaster survivor assistance fund at this time. A.R.S. § 35-192 (F)(2)

If there is a determination that the Governor should request a federal Emergency or Major Disaster Declaration, the Public Assistance Branch will assist in drafting the request to the President for the Governor’s signature.

In the event that a federal Emergency or Major Disaster Declaration is made, the Public Assistance Branch manages FEMA’s Public Assistance program, which is similar to the State’s Public Assistance program.

A Disaster remains open until all repairs/project work have been completed, inspected, the documentation audited, and final reimbursements are disbursed. Once the last reimbursement has been for all involved Applicants, the Disaster is terminated through the issuance of a Governor’s Declaration Termination.