DATE: September 5, 1992
RE: Federal Disaster Relief Law, 42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq.
Attached is a copy of the federal statutes governing disaster relief. As noted below, the definition of "public facility" in section 5122(8)(c)(d) includes recreational facilities and parks. As a result, pursuant to section 5141, such facilities are eligible for a waiver of administrative conditions for federal assistance programs, particularly LWCF and UPARR.
Further, pursuant to section 5153, park and recreation facilities in the designated disaster area would be entitled to priority assistance for the enumerated federal assistance programs in this section. LWCF and UPARR, however, are not included in this listing. In addition, the discretionary funding provision in 5154(b) mentions HUD and Commerce, but fails to mention Interior or Agriculture for possible discretionary funding for public park and recreation facilities. On the other hand, this section does list the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) which might possibly provide for wetland restoration in disaster areas like the Florida Everglades and the Louisiana Bayou.
Under section 5159, restoration efforts are not subject to EIS requirements under NEPA if "the effect of restoring a facility substantially to its condition prior to the disaster." Also, federal assitance to the disaster area under section 5170(a) directs federal agencies "to utilize its authorities and the resources granted to it under Federal law (including personnel, equipment, supplies, facilities, and managerial, technical, and advisory services) in support of State and local assistance efforts." Presumably, this would include Interior and Agriculture to assist Florida and Louisiana in their efforts to restore public park and recreation facilities in the disaster areas.
Finally, section 5184 authorizes "Community disaster loans" to any local government caused by "a substantial loss of tax and other revenues as a result of a major disaster" given a demonstrated "need for financial assistance in order to perform its governmental functions." Presumably, public park and recreation services would qualify for such assistance.
The above-cited sections are attached.
@ 5122. Definitions
As used in this Act-
(2) Major disaster. "Major disaster" means any natural catastrophe (including any hurricane, tornado, storm, high water, winddriven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, or drought), or, regradless of cause, any fire, flood, or explosion, in any part of the United States, which in the determination of the President causes damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant major disaster assistance under this Act to supplement the efforts and available resources of States, local governments, and disaster relief organizations in alleviating the damage, loss, hardship, or suffering caused thereby...
(8) Public facility. "Public facility" means the following
facilities owned by a State or local government:
(A) Any flood control, navigation, irrigation, reclamation, public power, sewage treatment and collection, water supply and distribution, watershed development, or airport facility.
(B) Any non-Federal-aid street, road, or highway.
(C) Any other public building, structure, or system, including those used for educational, recreational, or cultural purposes.
(D) Any park.
@ 5141. Waiver of administrative conditions
Any Federal agency charged with the administration of a Federal assistance
program may, if so requested by the applicant State or local authorities,
modify or waive, for a major disaster, such administrative conditions for
assistance as would otherwise prevent the giving of assistance under such
programs if the inability to meet such conditions is a result of the major
@ 5153. Priority to certain applications for public facility and public housing assistance
(a) Priority. In the processing of applications for assistance, priority
and immediate consideration shall be given by the head of the appropriate
Federal agency, during such period as the President shall prescribe, to
applications from public bodies situated in areas affected by major disasters
under the following Acts:
(1) The United States Housing Act of 1937 for the provision of low-income housing.
(2) Section 702 of the Housing Act of 1954 [40 USCS @ 462]for assistance in public works planning.
(3) The Community Development Block Grant Program under title I of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974.
(4) Section 306 of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act [7 USCS @ 1926].
(5) The Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965.
(6) The Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965.
(7) The Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
(b) Obligation of certain discretionary funds. In the obligation of discretionary funds or funds which are not allocated among the States or political subdivisions of a State, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and the Secretary of Commerce shall give priority to applications for projects for major disaster areas.
@ 5159. Protection of environment
An action which is taken or assistance which is provided pursuant to section 402, 403, 406, 407, or 502 [42 USCS @ 5170a, 5170b, 5172, 5173, or 5192], including such assistance provided pursuant to the procedures provided for in section 422 [42 USCS @ 5189], which has the effect of restoring a facility substantially to its condition prior to the disaster or emergency, shall not be deemed a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment within the meaning of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (83 Stat. 852) [42 USCS @@ 4321 et seq.]. Nothing in this section shall alter or affect the applicability of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 [42 USCS @@ 4321 et seq.] to other Federal actions taken under this Act or under any other provisions of law.
@ 5170a. General Federal assistance
In any major disaster, the President may--
(1) direct any Federal agency, with or without reimbursement, to utilize its authorities and the resources granted to it under Federal law (including personnel, equipment, supplies, facilities, and managerial, technical, and advisory services) in support of State and local assistance efforts;
(2) coordinate all disaster relief assistance (including voluntary assistance) provided by Federal agencies, private organizations, and State and local governments;
(3) provide technical and advisory assistance to affected State and local governments for--
(A) the performance of essential community services;
(B) issuance of warnings of risks and hazards;
(C) public health and safety information, including dissemination of such information;
(D) provision of health and safety measures; and
(E) management, control, and reduction of immediate threats to public health and safety; and
(4) assist State and local governments in the distribution of medicine, food, and other consumable supplies, and emergency assistance.
@ 5184. Community disaster loans
(a) The President is authorized to make loans to any local government
which may suffer a substantial loss of tax and other revenues as a result
of a major disaster, and has demonstrated a need for financial assistance
in order to perform its governmental functions. The amount of any such loan
shall be based on need, and shall not exceed 25 per centum of the annual
operating budget of that local government for the fiscal year in which
the major disaster occurs. Repayment of all or any part of such loan to
the extent that revenues of the local government during the three full fiscal
year period following the major disaster are insufficient to meet the operating
budget of the local government, including additional disaster-related expenses
of a municipal operation character shall be cancelled.
(b) Any loans made under this section shall not reduce or otherwise affect any grants or other assistance under this Act.