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MSEM 6300 Week 4:Major Disaster Declarations-Hazard Identification

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MSEM 6300 Week 4:Major Disaster Declarations-Hazard Identification essay assignment

MSEM 6300: Disaster Response and Recovery | Week 4 essay assignment

What is a major disaster declaration? Why did the space shuttle Challenger explosion receive an emergency declaration while other incidents—such as floods, tornadoes, or even the BP oil spill—did not?

According to federal law, if a state is overwhelmed by an incident, there is a process in place for the state governor to request disaster assistance. If the request for disaster assistance is approved, the president will issue an emergency or major disaster declaration. Although the process for acquiring a disaster declaration appears straightforward, it is a bit of a mystery. Emergency managers must know when to ask for federal assistance and understand the various criteria needed to establish the request for a declaration.

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This week, you continue to examine the nature of emergency management in the United States and the role of intergovernmental relations in emergency management. You also explore the circumstances under which the federal government provides assistance to states and localities. Finally, you consider distributive politics related to presidential emergency and disaster declarations.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Analyze the role of the federal government in disaster assistance
  • Evaluate criteria for disaster declarations
  • Analyze hazards related to community disaster response and recovery

According to the Stafford Act, one determining factor for issuing an emergency or major disaster declaration requires that the incident be beyond the state’s capacity to respond. However, several states have repeatedly received declarations for incidents within their capacity to respond. In January 2012, Massachusetts received a major disaster declaration for a snowstorm. Was this truly a major disaster? Is a snowstorm beyond the state’s capacity to respond? Marginal incidents comprise events that many believe do not require federal assistance.

Some have further argued that emergency and major disaster declarations have become an easy-to-use tool by presidents to curry political favor with constituents. Others have claimed that states have come to expect federal assistance for incidents that do not warrant federal assistance. As such, in too many instances federal assistance for emergencies and major disasters has become a form of entitlement for states and localities.

For this Discussion, review the media and Learning Resources for this week. Then consider the declaration process for emergencies and major disasters. Reflect on the pros and cons of federal governmental involvement in disaster assistance. Review the criteria that incidents must meet in order to classify as a major disaster. Select a disaster and research the role that the federal government plays with that disaster.

By Day 4

Post an explanation of the benefits and limitations of the federal government’s role in disaster assistance as it relates to the disaster you selected. Then explain whether you believe the criteria for disaster declarations have worked. Justify your position with specific examples.

Be sure to use the Learning Resources and current literature to support your response.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.

By Day 6

Respond and provide any insight gained having read at least one of your colleagues’ posts. Provide an alternate perspective on the position posed by your colleague.

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