In the face of any real disaster, the government is going to take steps to manage it. Some of these steps will be policy driven and others will happen out of necessity. Let’s look a little closer at what to expect from the government in time of disaster.
What We Know
The best place to start is with what we know. We have watched several ruthless disasters hit our nation in the last 20 years. Whether we are talking about a heart-stopping terrorist attack like 9/11, a devastating hurricane and flood like that of Katrina, or the terrorist bombing of the Boston Marathon, we have seen our government take action.
In two of those instances, forms of martial law were put in place almost instantly. No one in the media had the will to call it martial law, but that’s exactly what it was. This is a response that was not written into FEMA’s texts.
That said, we have to take things written into government processes with a grain of salt. Some of them are drilled and some aren’t. A collapse is like fist-fighting. As Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”
What We Must Assume
We must assume that the Department of Homeland Security will do everything in its power to hold true to its goal. What is its goal? Glad you asked. According to FEMA.gov…
A secure and resilient nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk.”
Take note that nowhere in this goal is there anything about the rights or freedoms of the people. We will look at the government’s actual policies and procedures later in the article, but I want to make a point first.
Back to the true crisis response of the government. In the case of the events we discussed earlier, there was a total abandonment of American rights and freedoms.
The role of the government is to maintain order. Now, to their credit, they will look to the public and community leaders to make that happen. However, if things get out of line, you will get a boot across your throat until you submit to their version of order.
What the Government Says
Both state and federal governments have very clear processes for declaring a disaster. This is outlined on the FEMA website. This process is based on how many resources are needed to deal with the disaster. What isn’t explained is what happens when those resources are gone.
If the government runs out of resources, what happens next? I think you should refer to the DHS goal above. According to FEMA’s official Disaster Declaration Process…
If it is apparent that a Presidential disaster declaration may be necessary to assist in the recovery of the impacted area, the State or Indian tribal government should contact their FEMA Regional Office and request a joint Federal, State/Tribal Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA). Local government representatives should be included, if possible. Together, the team will conduct a thorough assessment of the impacted area to determine the extent of the disaster, its impact on individuals and public facilities, and the types of federal assistance that may be needed.”
Our president can declare a major disaster which will merely free up more resources for the affected area or areas. This process is clearly outlined as well. Our government is very good at relinquishing resources to assist in a disaster.
This will be the first sign for you to take note of. It may be a quick tell to notice before bugging out.
The Disaster Declaration process also says…
The President can declare a major disaster for any natural event, including any hurricane, tornado, storm, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, or drought, or, regardless of cause, fire, flood, or explosion, that the President determines has caused damage of such severity that it is beyond the combined capabilities of state and local governments to respond. A major disaster declaration provides a wide range of federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work.
Requirements: The Governor of the affected State or Tribal Chief Executive of the affected Tribe must submit the request to the President through the appropriate Regional Administrator within 30 days of the occurrence of the incident. The request must base upon a finding that the situation is beyond the capability of the State and affected local governments or Indian tribal government and that supplemental federal assistance is necessary. In addition, the request must include:
- Confirmation that the Governor or Tribal Chief Executive has taken appropriate action under State or Tribal law and directed execution of the State or Tribal emergency plan;
- An estimate of the amount and severity of damage to the public and private sector;
- A description of the State and local or Indian tribal government efforts and resources utilized to alleviate the disaster;
- Preliminary estimates of the type and amount of Stafford Act assistance needed; and
- Certification by the Governor or Tribal Chief Executive that the State and local governments or Indian tribal government will comply with all applicable cost sharing requirements.”
Of course, the time may come when the SHTF and people are so overwhelmed that agencies are stretched to the limit. These events are the ones we all prepare for. Here is the DHS’s plan for overwhelming disasters.
You will see that similar allocation of resources and emergency resources. They will also call on the help of volunteers in the area. The truth about most disasters is that the more volunteer help and community cooperation you can muster the better you will fair with government aid.
Violent, aggressive, unorganized communities will face the strong arm of the DHS. Avoid this at all costs.
In very rare circumstances, a disaster of extraordinary size (such as September 11, Katrina, or Super Storm Sandy) may occur that would require DHS at-large to augment FEMA’s workforce.
In exceptional circumstances, this volunteer employee force — known as the Surge Capacity Force (SCF) – will be deployed to a disaster location to help FEMA with response and recovery.
To prepare, DHS trains SCF volunteers in four primary areas:
- Logistics, the storage and movement of critical materials in support of disaster response.
- Community Relations, reaching out to the public about available disaster assistance programs.
- Individual Assistance, providing aid to survivors.
- Public Assistance, monitoring debris.
The government has plans. They have processes in place to address serious disasters. If you have the time you can weave through all this information on websites like DHS.org and FEMA.org.
What you need to understand is that the government will maintain order. They will do so by any means necessary. If the disaster is severe enough to throw society into chaos, but not severe enough to cripple the government, you can expect it to be despotic, so be careful.
To learn more, read 6 Things That Can Happen During Martial Law.