Disaster Recovery Without a Presidential Declaration

Over the years, I sometimes have wondered what happens to disaster-impacted communities that are turned down for a declaration? That is an area that has received very little attention from researchers, as far as I know. Well, here is one account of how a community fared, and the results are surprisingly positive. See:

Region probably did OK without FEMA money

GLADE SPRING, Va. — Residents and community leaders were bitterly disappointed two years ago when Virginia was twice denied financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency after tornadoes ripped through the state, killing four people in this area.

 But now, with the destruction in the rear-view mirror and recovery efforts forging ahead, local leaders say that perhaps not receiving FEMA assistance was a blessing in disguise.


 “We pretty much agree within the group that it’s good we didn’t qualify for FEMA,” said Barbara Farmer, chairwoman of the Washington County Long Term Recovery Group, which was formed to help manage the crisis. “[We got to] see how the community came together and churches sent work groups in.”


 About $653,000 came in from the state, through the governor’s disaster recovery fund, and the rest of the $1.5 million in recovery efforts spent locally was raised locally.


 “We were able to be a little more flexible with the spending,” said Pokey Harris, Washington County’s emergency management coordinator. “We were able to meet more particular, individual needs of people. I wouldn’t say that federal funds would not have helped, but we do know there are a lot of stipends, hurdles and regulations.”

Note: thanks to a reader, here is a direct link to a FEMA-issued  Non-Stafford Act Recovery Guide that I did not know about.

3 thoughts on “Disaster Recovery Without a Presidential Declaration

  1. There is a recent publication from FEMA titled Non-Stafford Act Recovery Guide: Developing and Coordinating Resources (specifically from the Region V office I believe) that touches on this very topic. I originally found it on the HSDL website but it now appears available directly from the FEMA website:


    Ironically the picture on the cover shows recovery efforts from a 2011 federally declared event (May 22 Joplin tornado) but I’m happy to leave that be.

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