Seeking Disaster Assistance

Throughout the recovery period, it is important to monitor local radio or television reports and other media sources for information about where to get emergency housing, food, first aid, clothing, and financial assistance. The following section provides general information about the kinds of assistance that may be available.

Direct Assistance

Direct assistance to individuals and families may come from any number of organizations, including:

  • American Red Cross
  • Salvation Army
  • Other volunteer organizations
  • These organizations provide food, shelter, supplies and assist in clean-up efforts.

The Federal Role

In the most severe disasters, the federal government is also called in to help individuals and families with temporary housing, counseling (for post-disaster trauma), low-interest loans and grants, and other assistance. The federal government also has programs that help small businesses and farmers.

Most federal assistance becomes available when the President of the United States declares a “Major Disaster” for the affected area at the request of a state governor. FEMA will provide information through the media and community outreach about federal assistance and how to apply.

Grant Programs

Authorized under Section 404 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) provides grants to state and local governments, Indian tribes or other tribal organizations, and certain private non-profits to implement long-term hazard mitigation measures after a Presidential disaster declaration.

Hazard mitigation projects are funded under the HMGP on a 75% federal, 25% non-federal cost share basis to be administered by FEMA and managed in South Dakota at SD OEM. The non-federal share can be met through cash or in-kind services such as donated materials or labor. Even though this funding is the result of a disaster, all counties in the state are eligible to apply for HMGP funds. In order to qualify for funding, the project that may not affect the entire state must conform to the State Hazard Mitigation Plan, conform to environmental, historical, and economic justice issues, provide a long-term solution for the community, demonstrate cost-effectiveness, comply with program regulations, and be consistent with the local government's mitigation strategies as listed in their all-hazard mitigation plan.

Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) Program

The PDM is authorized by section 203 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. This program provides funding for mitigation projects on an annual basis. Eligible applicants for the PDM are state and local governments. Activities eligible for funding under the PDM include, but are not limited to:

  • Management Costs States may use up to 5 percent for program management.
  • Information Dissemination Up to 10 percent of the funds awarded to states may be used to disseminate information regarding cost-effective mitigation technologies, such as marketing, outreach, training and education.
  • Planning PDM funds may be used to develop state, local, and tribal multi-hazard mitigation plans. These plans must meet the criteria outlined in 44 CFR 201 pursuant to section 322 of the Stafford Act.
  • Technical Assistance Applicants may solicit technical assistance to support the development of comprehensive mitigation projects. Costs incurred by the applicant for technical assistance are eligible. Technical assistance should lead to the development of a viable project. Applicants must submit a final product (review, design, study, document) to the State who forwards it to FEMA.
  • Mitigation Projects A mitigation project is any action that results in elimination or long-term reduction of damages to public and private property from natural hazards and may include:
    • Property acquisition or relocation
    • Structural or non-structural retrofitting
    • Minor structural hazard control or protection projects that may include vegetation management, storm water management, or shoreline stabilization
    • Localized flood control projects, such as ring levees and floodwalls