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1.1 General

(a) The information and operating procedures outlined herein are issued as interim procedures because of the urgency of providing all agencies that may be affected by a disaster with a temporary guide, pending the preparation of regular manuals and instructions.

1.2 Executive Order No. 10427

(a) Executive Order No. 10427 was issued by the President on January 16, 1953. This order directs the Federal Civil Defense Administrator, hereinafter referred to as the Administrator, to take certain action authorized by Public Law 875, 81st Congress, 2d session, as amended, providing for a continuing means of supplemental assistance by the Federal Government to States and local governments in carrying out their responsibilities in alleviating suffering and damage resulting from major disasters.

(b) It further directs the Administrator to coordinate activities of Federal agencies in planning for and furnishing assistance in disasters and to foster development of State and local plans and organizations to cope with major disasters.

(c) In addition, the order authorized the Administrator on behalf of the President to coordinate activities of Federal agencies affording assistance under their own policies, practices, and statutory authority in the event of any disaster which will not permit delay in the commencement of Federal assistance and pending the determination of the President whether or not the disaster is a major one. 1.3 Authority, Public Law 875

(a) Public Law 875 requires that the President make the determination regarding the existence of a major disaster. Responsibility for this determination has not been delegated. It requires the President to determine that the catastrophe is, or threatens to be, of such severity and magnitude as to warrant assistance by the Federal Government.

(b) The following authorities of the President in Public Law 875 have been delegated to the Administrator: 1. The authority to direct Federal agencies to provide assistance (a) by utilizing or lending, with or without compensation therefor, to States and local governments, their equipment, supplies, facilities, personnel, and other resources; (b) by distributing through the American National Red Cross or otherwise, medicine, food, and other consumable supplies; (c) by donating to States and local governments equipment and supplies determined to be surplus to the needs and responsibilities of the Federal Government; and (d) by performing protective and other work necessary for the preservation of life and property, clearing debris and wreckage, making emergency repairs to and temporary replacements of public facilities damaged or destroyed in such major disaster, providing temporary housing or other emergency shelter for families who as a result of such major disaster require housing provisions, and making contributions to States and local governments for purposes stated in subsection (d).

2. The authority to coordinate activities of Federal agencies in providing disaster assistance in such manner as he may determine advisable, in the interest of providing maximum mobilization of Federal assistance under the act.

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(a) The Administrator has written each State governor and chief administrative authorities of the District of Columbia, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, furnishing them copies of Executive Order No. 10427, Public Law 875 and Public Law 107. He has informed them of the general provisions under which the Administrative responsibilities for this program will be administered. They have been advised of the name and address of the regional director, Federal Civil Defense Administration, hereinafter referred to as the regional director, who will have responsibility in that State or Territory. The Administrator has requested the governors to discuss the details of organization within his State with the regional director and has recommended the utilization of the State and local civil defense organization in disasters.

1.5 Notice to Federal agencies

(a) The Administrator has written each Federal agency having legislative authority or resources available in a disaster. He has advised them of the trans

fer of authority and functions to him by Executive Order No. 10427. Each agency has been asked to designate a representative to work out details with the Administrator's staff regarding that agency's participation in planning and in rendering disaster assistance.

1.6 Organizational responsibility, Federal Civil Defense Administration

(a) Responsibility for coordination of Federal assistance in a disaster has been delegated to the Federal Civil Defense Administration. This will be accomplished between Federal agencies by direct contact with departmental offices by the Administrator's staff and with field offices by the Federal Civil Defense Administration regional director. In addition, coordination of Federal assistance with State and local efforts will be necessary and normally will be the responsibility of the regional director.

(b) Certain authorities delegated to the Administration by the President have been redelegated to regional directors. The authority and functions delegated to the regional directors shall be exercised and performed by them in accordance with such rules, regulations, and instructions as the Administrator issues. The Administrator, or in his absence the Deputy Administrator or the Executive Assistant Administrator, will retain prime responsibility for exercising all those functions set forth in the executive order not delegated to regional directors. Generally the regular organizational units of the Federal Civil Defense Administration, both departmental and field, will carry out their assigned responsibilities in the disaster program in the same manner as in the civil defense program.

1.7 Organizational responsibility, State and local agencies

(a) The majority of the States have enacted legislation which vests in the State civil-defense organization the functional and operational responsibility of administering the State disaster relief program. It is the recommendation of the Administrator that those States which have not yet done so enact similar legislation in their forthcoming legislative sessions.

(b) As stated, since this authority now exists in a majority of States, this interim operating procedure will refer to the State and local civil-defense organizations as the units responsible for disaster action. It should be understood, of course, that where this authority has not been delegated to the civil-defense organization, the statements made and procedures suggested apply to whatever organization has been given the responsibility for disaster action.

1.8 Responsibility, American Red Cross

(a) Public Law 875 specifically provides that nothing contained therein shall limit or in any way affect the responsibilities of the American National Red Cross under the act approved January 5, 1905, as amended. The many years of experience and the far-flung organization of the American Red Cross will continue to be utilized in disaster situations. A detailed memorandum of understanding of the specific areas that will continue to be covered by the Red Cross is being worked out between that organization and the Federal Civil Defense Administration.

2.1 General


(a) The purpose of this section is to define and clarify various responsibilities governing Federal relief activity and operations as embodied in Public Law 875, 81st Congress, 2d session. Many questions will arise for which no precedent or criteria exists. These must be resolved by administrative determination based on existing facts and their application to the intent and scope of the act. Nevertheless, the defined functions of Public Law 875, along with the precedent of operations that has been established in its previous administration are outlined in the following sections.

2.2 Definition of major disasters

(a) As used in Public Law 875, "major disaster” is construed to mean “any flood, drought, fire, hurricane, earthquake, storm, or other catastrophe in any part of the United States which, in the determination of the President, is or threatens to be of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant disaster assistance by the Federal Government to supplement the efforts and available resources of States and local governments in alleviating the damage, hardship, or suffering caused thereby, and respecting which the governor of any State in which such catastrophe may occur or threaten certifies the need for disaster assistanct under

this act, and shall give assurance of expenditure of a reasonable amount of the funds of the government of such State, local governments therein, or other agencies, for the same or similar purposes with respect to such catastrophe." 2.3 Presidential determination

(a) After the Governor has certified a need for Federal assistance and gives assurance of an expenditure of a reasonable amount of the funds of the government of such State, local government therein, or other agencies, for the same or similar purposes, this then places the responsibility upon the President for determining whether the disaster is of such severity and magnitude as to constitute a major disaster and thus warrant Federal assistance under the provisions of Public Law 875.

2.4 Administrator's recommendations

(a) The Administrator will submit his recommendations to the President. Such recommendations will be based upon the following factors and other pertinent facts:

(1) Extent of damage which has occurred or threatens ;

(2) Legal authority and capability of State and local governments and agencies to alleviate damage, hardship, and suffering caused by the disaster; (3) Availability of Federal assistance in alleviating damage, hardship, and suffering.

2.5 Scope of disaster

(a) A catastrophe may endanger lives of many people or it may endanger none. It may threaten economic stability of an entire region or it may affect only residents or resources of a community. Ordinarily, disasters affecting a limited area or single facility, such as destruction of a school or hospital or damage to a revenue-producing facility, such as a power or water supply installation will not be considered major.

2.6 Reasonable expenditures by State and local agencies for same or similar purposes

(a) Prior to determination of a major disaster, the governor must give assurance to the President that a reasonable amount of the funds of State and local governments or other agencies has or will be expended for same or similar purposes as that assistance requested from the Federal Government. Since Public Law 875 stipulates that alleviation of suffering and damage resulting from disaster is primarily the responsibility of the State and local governmental agencies, Federal aid is limited to supplemental assistance. Therefore, available State and local resources should be committed to a reasonable degree before Federal assistance is made available.

(b) Circumstances in each case will govern the decision. What might be reasonable participation for New York City would be an insurmountable burden on a rural area. The test of reasonableness is dependent upon an individual case-by-case determination within the scope of the law rather than a predetermined concept. There is no intention to require that a State or local unit of government impoverish itself before Federal assistance is made available. Neither is there any intent for the Federal Government to assume the financial burden to conserve State or local funds.

(c) The expression "for the same or similar purposes" will be given, as intended, liberal interpretation consistent with good administration. The intent of Public Law 875 is to alleviate suffering and hardship caused by disaster, and as such, assistance which accomplishes that result will constitute compliance with provisions and spirit of the act. For example, if expenditures are required for emergency repair to bridges and water systems, it may be advisable for the State or local units to use their available funds on the bridge repair and devote Federal funds to water repair rather than require part of the State funds to be spent for each activity. However, expenditure of State or local funds for improvements to public facilities would not constitute compliance with this requirement of the act.

2.7 Emergency repairs and temporary replacements

(a) Section 3 of Public Law 875 provides for emergency housing and temporary shelter for the disaster stricken as well as performance of emergency repairs and temporary replacements of public facilities. Emergency and temporary work to be performed will be considered as the minimum necessary to provide for or to reestablish either shelters or facilities or replacement necessary

to restore facilities on a temporary basis long enough to allow for provision of permanent facilities. In such cases the intent of the law will be strictly adhered to and serve as the paramount determination as to the extent that Federal assistance should be made available.


3.1 Federal assistance under Public Law 875

(a) Federal assistance under the provisions of Public Law 875 can be made available only after the President has declared a major disaster to exist.

(b) When a major disaster occurs or threatens, the local civil-defense director should investigate promptly and report the facts with his recommendations to the State civil-defense director or such other agency designated as responsible in time of disaster. (See 1.7(b).)

(c) The State agency concerned should make such further investigation as necessary and immediately report the facts with his recommendations to the governor, advising the regional director in all cases where Federal assistance may be requested.

3.2 Other Federal assistance

(a) In addition to the assistance which may be requested under Public Law 875, various Federal agencies have statutory authority to provide help of various kinds in any disaster. The Governor or the State director may, of course, make direct requests to these agencies. However, since the Federal Civil Defense Administrator has the responsibility of the President to coordinate such assistance, it is suggested that all such requests might be expedited by placing them through the regional director. He should certainly be advised of any requests made directly to another Federal agency. Current information on the authority, policies, and resources of all Federal agencies will be developed and maintained by the Federal Civil Defense Administration. (See pt. V-6.)

3.3 Screening committee

(a) Where disaster covers a large area and will result in requests for assistance from several political subdivisions of government, it is suggested the governor designate a screening committee to review requests for assistance from these local units. (See IV-7.)

3.4 Certificate and request of governor

(a) Provisions of Public 875 will be invoked only for major disasters concerning which the governor certifies the need for Federal assistance and gives assurance of the expenditure of a reasonable amount of the funds of State or local governments or other agencies for the same or similar purposes with respect to such disaster. The request, certification, and assurance outlined above should be addressed to the President by the governor.

(b) Considerable time may be saved if prior to dispatch of the request to the President, the regional director is consulted to determine eligibility of the assistance desired and arrange for the regional director simultaneously notifying the Administrator.

(c) There is attached as appendix A a sample of a request by a governor to the President for declaration of a major disaster.

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(a) Following the governor's request, additional data should be furnished the regional director. This should include, but not be limited to, the following:

(1) Estimate of the extent of damage, separated between public and private, by type of facility, such as water and sewer systems, private dwellings, industrial plants, streets, public buildings, etc.;

(2) Estimated cost of emergency repairs, temporary replacements, clearance of debris and work necessary for the preservation of life and property; (3) Statement of funds available or to be made available from State or local sources;

(4) Action taken or to be taken by the State legislature or local governing bodies, such as special sessions or interim board or council meetings;

(5) Statement of action taken or to be taken by local and State civildefense organizations;

(6) Estimate of minimum Federal funds, personnel, equipment, and material required to supplement the State and local effort;

(7) Estimate of civil-defense stockpile material, equipment, and supplies required, indicating that to come from Federal stockpile and from State stockpile;

(8) Any additional data which would be of assistance in determining whether the situation constitutes a major disaster and the type and extent of Federal assistance necessary.

3.6 Assurance of reasonable State and local expenditures

(a) Public Law 875 places primary responsibility for disaster recovery action with the State. The governor has given assurance of the expenditure of a reasonable amount of State and local funds and should make sure that this is being done. Use of State and local civil-defense facilities should aid materially in accomplishing this.

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(a) It is assumed that all means of assistance available to the State civildefense director, including assistance made available through interstate compacts, will be provided when disaster results exceed the corrective ability of any community or communities within the State. In order to make the State civildefense effort more efficient, a disaster plan should be prepared and maintained in current status. Inventories of available equipment, material, and manpower should be available at all times. One of the greatest delaying factors in a normal disaster situation is inability to locate promptly equipment and equipment operators.

(b) One of the most pressing needs in a disaster operation is an available fund to meet necessary expenses. In a few States where appropriations for disasters are available this need is somewhat alleviated. It is recommended that every effort be made, particularly in States subject to recurring natural disaster, to enact appropriate State laws and provide funds for disaster.

(c) The Federal Civil Defense Administration has not and will not attempt to recommend any specific plan for State civil-defense action in the disaster field. It is recognized that each State will have varying requirements and situations. In those States subject to flood damage an entirely different plan may be required from that resulting from blizzards. Each State is familiar with recurring disasters for which it must prepare. Sufficient flexibility should be retained in the State plan, however, to cover all situations. Federal Civil Defense Administration personnel at both the regional and Washington level will be available for consultation when requested.


4.1 General information

(a) Effective liaison, rapid communication, sound judgment and positive action between Federal, State and local agencies is a must in disaster operation. The Federal Civil Defense Administration will give top priority to the handling of its disaster responsibilities. Advance planning and provison for accomplishment of these objectives will insure good performance when disaster strikes.

(b) The participation of the Federal Civil Defense Administration in civil disasters should result in valuable experience and practice in functions which will simulate and in many ways, coincide with their functions under an enemyinduced disaster.

(c) The authorities and functions delegated to the Administrator in the operation of Public Law 875 are derived from congressional action separate and apart from basic Federal Civil Defense Administration authority, Public Law 920. Standards and procedures developed for the disaster program, when in conflict with normal Federal Civil Defense Administration standards and procedures, should not be construed as a change in policy in civil defense, but as necessitated by different basic authorities.

4.2 Federal Civil Defense Administration regional office organization

(a) No additional personnel or special organization will be set up in the regional offices at this time to handle natural disasters. Existing organizational units should be utilized by the regional director to perform functions comparable to those they would perform in disaster caused by enemy action.

(b) In the event of major disaster, temporary additional personnel may be employed. As a general rule, however, additional manpower should be secured by detail from other regions, the Washington office or other Federal agencies. Specific delegation of responsibilities to other agencies may also be made.

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