State Emergency Council supports disaster recovery and response

State Emergency Council supports disaster recovery and response

Projects stemming from state declared disasters using money from the Governor's Emergency Fund

PHOENIX--Monsoonal weather combined with the remnants of Hurricane Norbert brought torrential rain to Arizona, flooding many portions of the state in September 2014. Maricopa, Pinal and La Paz Counties experienced significant infrastructure damage. Numerous roads were closed due to severe flooding. 

The counties and the State declared disasters. Following a State Declaration of Emergency, the Governor is authorized to allocate up to $200,000 from the Governor’s Emergency Fund to assist in the immediate response and recovery costs. Funding requests in excess of $200,000 must be approved by the majority of the State Emergency Council.

The Council is comprised of representatives from 14 state agencies, including the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA). DEMA administers the State Public Assistance Program for declared emergencies and make recommendations on funds to be allocated to a disaster by the Council.

The Governor’s Emergency Fund is obligated $4,000,000 annually that is expended between July 1 and June 30. Prior to the end of the fiscal year, the Council meets to evaluate outstanding obligations from the fund, reviews requested funding for projects and determines what funds may be used for hazard mitigation projects.

"The State Emergency Council provides critical recommendations to the Governor with regards to use of State assets and State funding before, during, and following emergency events,” said Wendy Smith-Reeve, DEMA’s Deputy Director, and Division of Emergency Management Director. “DEMA holds two seats on the Council, and also serves as an administrative body for funding authorized by the Council. In this capacity, we provide structure to key funding lifelines as well as support impacted jurisdictions in their disaster mitigation and recovery efforts."

The September 2014 flooding event has been allocated $2,608,829.30 from the Governor’s Emergency Fund for more than 150 projects in La Paz, Maricopa and Pinal Counties.

This year, the Council allocated $1.335 million in response to events such as the 2015 Colorado City Flooding, Summer 2006 Monsoon Flooding, February 2005 Winter Storms, Search and Rescue Contingency, and the EMAC Contingency.

With the end of the year approaching, the Council met to review eight hazard mitigation project proposals totaling $928,098 from money left in the fund.

The projects varied from installing flood warning system gauges in La Paz County and constructing new drainage channels in Cottonwood to enhancing the Arizona seismic hazard database with the Arizona Geological Survey. 

Hazard mitigation projects can be funded by the emergency council if they fall under strict parameters, including helping a community buy down the risk of damage from a potential disaster. Applicants must be able to prove that the project will save money in the future.

The council voted to approve the eight projects; however, the funding is held through the end of the year in case a disaster is declared by June 30th.

The oldest open disaster in Arizona is the 2005 Winter Storms and flooding that occurred in a majority of Arizona counties, as well as on tribal lands. To date, $4,457,689 has been spent on projects from that disaster.  Since 1966, more than $109 million has been spent helping communities recover from and mitigate against disaster.