1. Michael Lewis

    Specialist - Recovery
    Phone: 803-326-2300

York County like other areas of the state is vulnerable to disaster.  Post-disaster recovery can often be challenging, even if a community has prepared for worst case scenario; however, by proactively creating a process to make smart post-disaster decisions and prepare for recovery needs, the community can do more than simply react. A disaster, while tragic, can also create opportunity.  York Counties recovery plan identifies policies, operational strategies, and roles and responsibilities for implementation that will guide decisions that affect long-term recovery and redevelopment of the community after a disaster. It emphasizes seizing opportunities for hazard mitigation and community improvement consistent with the goals of the local comprehensive plan and with full participation of the citizens. Recovery topics addressed include sustainable land use, housing repair and reconstruction, business resumption and economic redevelopment, infrastructure restoration and mitigation, long-term health and social services support, environmental restoration, financial considerations, and short-term recovery actions that affect long-term redevelopment as well as other long-term recovery issues identified by the community.

Phases of Post-Disaster Recovery

Recovery begins before a disaster occurs and continues while response actions are taking place.  After response actions being to close, recovery actions transition from emergency efforts to reestablishing vital infrastructure and services to the community.  There is no clear differentiation between the end of the response phase and the beginning of the recovery phase. Activities that take place during this time include, but are not limited to, damage and needs assessments, evaluation of roadways, and the process of repairing or replacing damaged infrastructure both commercially and residentially.  Debris removal begins and eventually long-term community redevelopment begins.

  • Short-Term Recovery (typically Days/Weeks)

         During the short-term phase of recovery generally actions to open roads, restore power and water, and the early stages          of debris removal are at the forefront.  The immediate needs following the initial response both for residents and                      businesses is the focus of this phase.  It is critical during this time to evaluate mitigation measures to ensure that                      opportunities that are presented in the disaster can be taken to build a more sustainable and resilient future.

  • Long-Term Recovery (typically Days/Weeks)  

         Long-term recovery is more complex and includes continued debris removal efforts, replacement of critical infrastructure          damaged from the disaster.  During this phase coordination between the public, private and non-profit sectors drive this          phase as community goals and strategies are presented and ranked in priority to accomplish and implement actions               leading to resiliency.  Continued economic restoration and community redevelopment defines this phase and could take          months to years to finalize. 


The Declaration Process

The Stafford Act required that “All request for a declaration by the President that a major disaster exists shall be made by the Governor of the effected State”.

The request by the State for a declaration is made through the regional FEMA office. State and Federal officials conduct a preliminary damage assessment (PDA) to estimate the extent of the disaster and its impact on individuals and public facilities. This information is included in the Governor’s request to show that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and the local governments and that Federal assistance is necessary. Normally, the PDA is completed prior to the submission of the Governor’s request. However, when an obviously severe or catastrophic event occurs, the Governor’s request may be submitted prior to the PDA. Nonetheless, the Governor must still make the request.

Based on the Governor’s request, the President may declare that a major disaster or emergency exists, thus activation an array of Federal program to assist in the response and recovery effort. However, not all programs are activated for every disaster. The determination of which programs are activated is based on the needs found during damage assessment and any subsequent information that may be discovered.

Types of Declarations

FEMA disaster assistance falls into three general categories. Individual Assistance (IA) which is aid to individuals and households; Public Assistance (PA) which is aid to public (and certain private non-profits) entities for certain emergency services and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities; and Hazard Mitigation Assistance which is funding for measures designed to reduce future losses to public and private property. Understand that some declarations will provide only individual assistance or only public assistance. Hazard mitigation opportunities are assessed in most situations.