Lincoln, Nebraska – The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska made history last year after being the first Tribe from the State of Nebraska to make a direct disaster declaration to the President of the United States, approved on June 17, 2019. In 2013, the Sandy Recovery and Improvement Act (P.L. 113-2) amended the Stafford Act to provide federally recognized tribes with the authority to make direct declaration requests to the President. There were blizzard conditions and significant flooding throughout the state of Nebraska, beginning in March of 2019, and the Ponca tribe was heavily impacted. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) staff worked with the Tribe to conduct damage assessments and ultimately, the request was made for a Disaster Declaration for Public Assistance.
“Dealing with the repercussions of the flood and damage from last spring’s disaster caused an immense time of stress for our tribal citizens and our staff. Adding to that stress was requesting a direct disaster declaration from the President of the United States. The benefit to our tribal nation in doing so speaks for itself,” stated Ponca Tribal Chairman Larry Wright, Jr. “ However, this would not have been possible without our great staff and the cooperation we had with FEMA. Our staff were essentially starting from scratch, but through the cooperation and relationships built with FEMA we were able to successfully navigate through this challenging time. The process has positioned us well in remediating last year’s disaster and preparing us for future events.”
Public Assistance (PA) is FEMA’s largest grant program, providing funds to assist communities responding to and recovering from major disasters or emergencies declared by the President. The program provides emergency assistance to save lives and protect property, and assists with permanently restoring community infrastructure affected by a federally declared disaster. In total, FEMA and the Ponca worked together on approval of seven PA projects totaling approximately $1.3 million. Of that figure, almost $220,000 went towards mitigation. The FEMA 406 Mitigation Program allows for mitigation measures on damaged facilities. One of the best times to protect a facility from future, similar damage, is during the recovery period.
“We have had a great partnership working with the Ponca as they continue to move forward with their recovery, “said FEMA Region VII Administrator Paul Taylor. “I especially want to commend the Tribe on their use of the 406 Mitigation Program, that type of smart investment should pay off in the long term.”
For more information on the disaster recovery operation for the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, please visit fema.gov/disaster/4446 or poncatribe-ne.org. Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PoncaTribeOfNebraska/.