Federal Stafford Act Disaster Assistance: Presidential Declarations, Eligible Activities, and Funding [Updated September 27, 2005] [open pdf - 78KB]
"The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (the Stafford Act) authorizes the President to issue a major disaster declaration to speed a wide range of federal aid to states determined to be overwhelmed by hurricanes or other catastrophes. Financing for the aid is appropriated to the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Funds appropriated to the DRF remain available until expended (a no-year account). The Stafford Act authorizes temporary housing, grants for immediate needs of families and individuals, the repair of public infrastructure, emergency communications systems, and other forms of assistance. Because the Stafford Act provides the President with permanent authority to direct federal aid to stricken states, Congress need not enact new legislation to meet immediate needs. Congress appropriated almost $70 billion to the DRF in FY2005 in response to the four hurricanes that struck Florida in the fall of 2004, Hurricane Katrina (August 25-29, 2005), and other disasters. Congress can elect to consider supplemental appropriations should additional money be required to meet requests for assistance, including recovery costs associated with Hurricane Rita. Information on supplementals enacted after Hurricane Katrina is presented in CRS Report RS22239, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Hurricane Katrina Relief."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33053