Disaster Relief Act of 1974 Categories: 05-May Timelines: Milestones

May 22, 1974:

President Richard Nixon signed the Disaster Relief Act of 1974, amending a 1970 version of the legislation. The act expanded the assistance the federal government could provide to individuals, states, and local communities suffering from disasters. […] The Disaster Relief Act of 1974 authorized the President to:

  • Establish a program of disaster preparedness using the services of all appropriate federal agencies;
  • Make grants for the development of plans and programs for disaster preparedness and prevention;
  • Declare a major disaster at the request of a Governor;
  • Make contributions to state or local governments to help repair or reconstruct public facilities;
  • Make grants to help repair or reconstruct nonprofit educational, utility, emergency, and medical and custodial care facilities;
  • Purchase or lease temporary housing, and provide temporary mortgage or rent payment assistance;
  • Provide assistance to people unemployed as a result of the disaster;
  • Provide additional relief, including food coupons and commodities, relocation assistance, legal services, and crisis counseling;
  • Make grants to a state in order for the state to provide grants to individuals and families if assistance otherwise provided by the act is inadequate; and,
  • Make loans to local governments suffering a substantial loss of tax and other revenues.

Critics [of the Act] noted that no single entity was responsible for coordinating the federal response to a major disaster.  — NLIHC

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