Disaster Program

The National Park Service works with internal and external partners to help communities impacted by disasters prepare for and recover from storms, flooding, hurricanes, fires, and other perils. Across the federal government, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is the lead for disaster response and recovery operations. More information on which federal agencies coordinate specific steps after a disaster may be found below, as well as a graphic representation of a generic disaster's timeline. When funds are appropriated by Congress from the Historic Preservation Fund, the National Park Service administers financial assistance for historic resources impacted by a disaster.

In order to assist States, Tribes, Territories, and Local governments in working with the federal government before and after a disaster, we have prepared a series of documents outlining the ways levels of government can work together to support the recovery of historic and cultural resources. Asking the right person the right questions at the right time can help speed the distribution of resources and technical assistance to disaster-impacted communities.

This guidance was produced by the National Park Service, State, Local, Tribal, Plans & Grants Division, National Park Service; Cultural Resources GIS Facility; Department of the Interior, Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance; Federal Emergency Management Agency, Heritage Emergency National Task Force; Federal Emergency Management Agency, Office of Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation; National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers; National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers; North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resource, Division of Historic Resources; and the Colorado Office of Archaeology & Historic Preservation.

Checklist & Guidance on Working with the Federal Government

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    Graph of Disaster Continuum showing the time before a disaster, the disaster, and the overlapping phases of response and recovery after a disaster.
    Disaster continuum from pre-disaster to response and recovery.


    Federal Government Disaster Response

    States, tribes, and local governments looking for support recovering from disasters will find that the federal government response is guided by the National Disaster Recovery Framework. This framework provides a flexible structure against which recovery operations can be organized. For cultural resource professionals, this structure provides several opportunities to integrate cultural resources into recovery operations. The lead agency for coordinating the national framework is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), that is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

    Through a broad network of partners, the State, Tribal, Local, Plans & Grants Division provides technical assistance to disaster impacted communities, when requested. When Congress appropriates funds to our disaster grant program, we also administer a funding program. Our technical and financial assistance usually supports recovery operations.
    Recovery support functions by lead agency and issue. Adapted from FEMA Region 4 Recovery Support Function Quarterly Meeting (January 19, 2022).
    Recovery Support Function Lead Federal Agency Cultural Resources and Historic Preservation Issues Included
    Economic Department of Commerce Economic development planning, neighborhood revitalization
    Health & Social Services Department of Health and Human Services Active living, health in all policies, community health improvement planning
    Housing Department of Housing and Urban Development Engagement of displaced populations, land use and zoning, residential mitigation strategies
    Infrastructure Army Corps of Engineers Transportation planning, infrastructure/community visioning alignment
    Natural & Cultural Resources Department of the Interior Environmental justice, placemaking, collections, archives, and records, and historic properties
    Community Planning & Capacity Building Department of Homeland Security Supporting planning efforts at the state, territorial, and local level

    Partners in Technical Assistance

    Last updated: October 4, 2022