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Federal Emergency Declarations: Numbers and Background

photo of Kenneth Chamberlain
April 28, 2011

As terrible as the recent tornadoes that hit Alabama and the rest of the South, they weren't the first disasters to be labeled this year as emergency declarations. The president has declared three other disasters since January 1.

Emergency Declarations in 2011

What Types of Disaster Declarations Can the President Make?

There are two types of disaster declarations the president can make:

 

• According to the Federal Emergency Managment Agency, the president can make an emergency declaration on "any occasion or instance when the president determines federal assistance is needed." These declarations are geared toward supplementing state and local services, and can't exceed $5 million without reporting to Congress.
• The president can issue a Major Disaster Declaration for any natural event or for a fire, flood, or explosion, regardless of cause, that "has caused damages of such severity that it is beyond the combined capabilities of state and local governments to respond." The declaration "provides a wide range of federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work."

What States Have Been Subject to All Disaster Declarations Since 1953?

Top 10 States
Texas, 84
California, 78
Oklahoma, 67
Florida, 63
New York, 62
Louisiana, 56
Alabama, 54
Kentucky, 53
Missouri, 51
Arkansas, 51


Bottom 10 States

Maryland, 20
Montana, 19
Nevada, 17
Colorado, 16
South Carolina, 15
Connecticut, 15
Delaware, 13
Wyoming, 8
Utah, 8
Rhode Island, 8

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