Natural Disaster Response and Recovery

When a disaster is declared, the Federal government, led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), responds at the request of, and in support of, States, Tribes, Territories, and Insular Areas and local jurisdictions impacted by a disaster.  Response actions are organized under the National Response Framework. FEMA appoints a Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) to establish a Joint Field Office (JFO) and lead the response. Short- and long-term recovery actions are organized under the National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF). FEMA appoints a Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator (FDRC) as a deputy to the FCO to lead the recovery effort from the JFO.

Recovery often begins while emergency response activities are still in progress. The disaster recovery process focuses on restoring, redeveloping, and revitalizing communities impacted by a disaster. The NDRF established six Recovery Support Functions (RSFs) to provide technical assistance and support the recovery in accordance with priorities of impacted communities. The RSFs include: Community Planning and Capacity Building, Housing, Economics, Infrastructure Systems, Health, and Natural and Cultural Resources (i.e., the NCR RSF). Each RSF is led by a Federal Coordinating Agency and has a core group of Primary Agencies along with a cadre of Supporting Organizations. The purpose of the RSFs is to integrate interagency resources for recovery support by facilitating problem solving, improving access to resources, and fostering coordination among Local, State, Tribal, Territorial, and Insular Area partners, nongovernmental partners, the private sector, and stakeholders.

In accordance with the NDRF’s Recovery Federal Interagency Operational Plan, NCR RSF field support operations are structured around six key operational stages to ensure that recovery partners and stakeholders at all levels have a shared understanding of the sequence and synchronization of activities around which they can operate. The stages listed below provide the flexibility necessary to address the unique recovery challenges of each disaster, while also providing Federal recovery support in a consistent, timely, and efficient manner.  The NCR RSF could be activated by FEMA for all, or some, of the six stages of disaster recovery depending on the NCR needs for a particular disaster. These stages include:

  1. Monitoring and Situational Awareness.
  2. Advance Evaluation.
  3. FDRC and RSF Activation/Deployment.
  4. Recovery Support Strategy (RSS) Report Development.
  5. RSS Report Implementation.
  6. Transition and Return to Steady-State Operations.

For more information on these stages, see the NCR RSF Concept of Operations Plan.