November 23, 1988:
“The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, was signed into law, amending the Disaster Relief Act of 1974. The Stafford Act created the system in place today by which a presidential disaster declaration of an emergency triggers financial and physical assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The Act gives FEMA the responsibility for coordinating government-wide relief efforts.
It is designed to bring an orderly and systemic means of federal natural disaster assistance for state and local governments in carrying out their responsibilities to aid citizens.
Congress’ intention was to encourage states and localities to develop comprehensive disaster preparedness plans, prepare for better intergovernmental coordination in the face of a disaster, encourage the use of insurance coverage, and provide federal assistance programs for losses due to a disaster.
This Act constitutes the statutory authority for most federal disaster response activities especially as they pertain to FEMA and FEMA programs.” — FEMA