Stafford Act

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The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1988, (42 U.S. Code 5191)[1] is the principal legal authority for U.S. Federal responses to domestic disasters. Its full invocation requires a Presidential proclamation of a disaster, which then authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to respond. [2]

One of the key attributes of invoking the Act is that FEMA can draw on a preestablished disaster assistance fund, without waiting for explicit Congressional legislation.