Local, State, and Federal Assistance Process

All disasters begin and end at the lowest level of government. A local disaster may be declared for any of the following reasons:

• To exercise extraordinary powers.
• To activate preparedness, response and recovery aspects of any and all applicable local emergency management plans.
• To provide additional liability protection to government agencies and special or volunteer emergency workers.
• To formally request general assistance from the state and federal governments.

A local government is expected to use its own resources and the resources available to it through mutual aid agreements before requesting assistance from the state.

  • Municipalities must request assistance from their county before requesting assistance from the state. 
  • If local and mutual aid resources prove inadequate for coping with a disaster, the local government may request assistance from the state by contacting the local District Coordinator and/or the local Disaster District Committee (DDC) chairperson, who is the commanding officer of the Texas Highway Patrol district or sub-district in which the jurisdiction is located 
  • Requests for recovery assistance must be made by the local chief elected official in writing to the governor of Texas through the Texas Division of Emergency Management. The request must indicate that the disaster is of such magnitude that local resources are inadequate to deal with it and the affected locality cannot recover without state and/or federal assistance 
  • All local disaster operations will be directed by officials of local government.
  • If the disaster is of such magnitude that local and state resources are inadequate and areas cannot recover without federal assistance, the governor may request that the president of the United States declare a federal disaster declaration.
  • The governor’s request will be sent through the FEMA Region 6 regional administrator to the FEMA administrator who will review and make a recommendation to the president.
  • After review, the state will receive notification of what types of assistance programs have been made available. 
  • If the request for a federal declaration is denied, the state will have 30 days to appeal the denial.

What are the requirements for a federal disaster declaration?


  • The governor of Texas must issue a disaster declaration for affected areas.
  • Both the state and each affected county must meet fiscal thresholds to be eligible for the FEMA Public Assistance (PA) grant program. 
  • The state must meet the FY 2017 cumulative threshold of $35,958,152 for any jurisdictions to be eligible for FEMA PA assistance.
  • Each affected county must meet the FY 2017 threshold for their jurisdiction to be eligible for Public Assistance. The threshold for Rockwall County is $282,979 in uninsured losses. If a county meets or surpasses their threshold and the state does not meet its threshold, the jurisdiction will not be eligible.
  • While the FEMA Individual Assistance program does not have fiscal thresholds, there are guidelines for eligibility. Individual Assistance declarations are uncommon and should not be relied upon after a disaster.  If you are a resident of Rockwall County and need assistance following a disaster, please click here.