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Number: DAO 210-7
Effective Date: 1977-04-15


.01 This order prescribes the responsibilities and associated authorities of the Department in connection with disaster.

.02 This revision updates the citations of authority (Section 3.), disaster responsibilities (Section 4.), reimbursement provisions (Section 7.), and general language of the order.


.01 Emergency means any hurricane, tornado, storm, flood, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, drought, fire, explosion, or other catastrophe in any part of the United States which requires Federal emergency assistance to supplement State and local efforts to save lives and protect property, public health and safety or to avert or lessen the threat of a disaster.

.02 Major Disaster means any hurricane, tornado, storm, flood, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, drought, fire, explosion, or other catastrophe in any part of the United States, which, in the determination of the President, causes damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant major disaster assistance under the Disaster Relief Act of 1974, above and beyond emergency services by the Federal Government, to supplement the efforts and available resources of States, local governments and disaster relief organizations in alleviating the damage, loss, hardship of suffering caused thereby.


.01 Public Law (P. L.) 93-288 of May 22, 1974, (42 U.S. C. 5121 et sq.), "Disaster Relief Act of 1974," authorizes Federal assistance to the fifty States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Canal Zones, and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, local governments and disaster relief organizations in major disaster or emergency as defined therein.

.02 Executive Order 11795 of July 11, 1974, "Delegating Disaster Relief Functions Pursuant to the Disaster Relief Act of 1974," as amended by Executive Order 11910 of April 13, 1976, "Delegating Legal Services Functions Pursuant to the Disaster Relief Act of 1974."


.01 The Director, Office of Emergency Readiness (OER) shall be immediately notified when an operating unit receives an official request for assistance in any emergency, and coordination shall be effected with OER until the emergency is terminated.

.02 The following disaster responsibilities are delegated to the heads of particular operating units in the Department organization Orders for such operating units:

a. Under the provisions of the 1960 International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea, TIAS 5780, 16 UST 185, 502 (Chapter V, Greg. 10(a)), Article 12 of the 1958 Convention on the High Seas, TIAS 5200, 13 UST 2312, 2316, and 46 U.S. C. 728, the master of any ship at sea (which includes vessels under the jurisdiction of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Maritime Administration), on receiving a signal from any source that a ship, aircraft or survival craft is in distress, is bound to proceed with all speed to the assistance of the persons in distress.

b. NOAA has the basic responsibility for providing national weather service, including preparation and distribution of forecasts and warnings of weather and flood conditions that affect the Nation's safety, welfare and economy. This includes: severe weather forecasts and warnings involving tornadoes, hurricanes, storm tides, cold waves, heavy snows and blizzards as well as forecasts and warnings of floods. Whenever such natural disasters threaten, NOAA alerts the Federal Disaster Assistance Administration (FDAA) to possible dangers. During the period when these natural disasters are taking place, NOAA keeps FDAA advised of such pertinent details as changes in intensity, area affected, and likely duration. In addition, NOAA makes available, as rapidly as possible, environmental data pertinent to rapid post facto evaluation of disasters. NOAA's authorities and responsibilities include the following:

1. Under the provisions of 33 U.S. C. 883a-I, and in cooperation with other agencies of the Government, it operates the Tsunami Warning System, a system designed to provide warning of potential destructive sea waves in the Pacific Ocean area. NOAA alerts State, Federal, and military officials and officials of foreign countries.

2. Pursuant to the provisions of 33 U.S. C. 874(b) and Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1970, it provides from available appropriations, reimbursement under regulations prescribed by the Secretary to commissioned officers for food, clothing, medicine, and other supplies furnished by them for the temporary relief of distressed persons in remote localities and to shipwrecked persons temporarily provided for by them.

3. Under provisions of the Commercial Fisheries Research and Development Act of 1964, as amended, 16 U.S. C. 779(b), the Secretary is authorized to make available financial assistance to any State in which the Secretary determines there is a Fishery Resource Disaster. This authority is re delegated to the NOAA Administrator.

4. A delegation of authority from the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to the Secretary of Commerce, 40 FR 42769, September 16, 1975, provides for technical assistance to State and local governments for effective disaster warnings.

ac. Pursuant to P. L. 93-288 and 24 CFR Part 2205, the Maritime Administration is empowered to provide information and assistance, as authorized by law or other authorities, to:

1. Facilitate the provisions of shipping support for relief of a disaster; and

2. Coordinate actions necessary to minimize the effects of a disaster on shipping operations.

d. The Bureau of Domestic Commerce within the Domestic and International Business Administration carries out the priorities and allocations authority of Title I of the Defense Production Act of 1950 as amended 50 U.S. C. App. 2061 et sq.; Executive Order 10480, as amended, 3 CFR 962 (1949-1953 Comp.), and Defense Mobilization Order 3, 32A CFR Part 103 (1976) with respect to production and distribution of materials needed in support of the national defense and certain designated energy programs. Under these authorities, priorities and allocations assistance is provided defense contractors and related defense supporting services which require assistance as a result of a natural disaster.

e. Executive Order 11795 of July 11, 1974 reserved to the President certain functions under Section s 301, 313, 401, 412, and Title V of 42 U.S. C. 3231 of the Disaster Relief Act of 1974. However, Title V still requires that the Secretary of Commerce determine that proposed assistance for the establishment of a new branch affiliate, or subsidiary of an existing business entity, will not result in increased unemployment in areas where the entity presently conducts business, and that there is no reason to believe that the new activity is being established with the intention of closing down business in areas of present operations.

lf. P. L. 93-288 Section 313(b) states that the Secretary of Commerce shall give priority to applications for projects in major disaster areas in which a Recovery Planning Council has been designated pursuant to Title VIII of the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965, 42 U.S. C. 3231.

.03 When assistance is required immediately and is provided under the above authorities, appropriate national and field officials of the Department shall promptly notify the appropriate FDAA Federal Coordinating Officer of the action taken. Rescues at sea are excluded from this notification and reporting requirements.


.01 The Administrator, Federal Disaster Assistance Administration has been given certain authority and functions under PL 930288, and by Executive Order 11795, as amended by 11910. The functions and authority of FDAA are further prescribed in 24 CFR 2205.

.02 The authorities and functions of FDAA, as summarized above, do not affect the authority of any operating unit to perform the emergency functions covered in Section 4. of this order, except that such assistance is subject to coordination, where applicable, by FDAA.


The Assistant Secretary for Administration, under delegated authorities, is charged with coordinating and taking such other actions as are necessary on behalf of the Secretary to mobilize promptly and furnish assistance in accordance with requests and authorizations from FDAA. OER shall provide staff support to the Assistant Secretary for Administration in performance of these responsibilities. Participating operating units shall keep OER informed on significant actions taken, and submit daily reports if necessary through OER, so that there will be a single point within the Department for coordinating and reporting to the Secretary on disaster assistance.


.01 Costs incurred by operating units of the Department of Commerce for assistance provided by them under P. L. 93-288, are subject to reimbursement under Section 307 of that statute; however, overtime, travel and per diem must be approved by the FDAA Administrator or the Regional Director requesting such assistance.

.02 As provided in the revised Section 2205.80, 24 CFR Part 2205 Subpart H, "Reimbursement of Other Agencies," the FDAA Administrator may approve certain "other costs" related to disaster relief.


This order supersedes Department Administrative Order 210-7, dated, July 5, 1972.

Signed by: Acting Assistant Secretary for Administration

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