Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Law and Legal Definition

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is a governmental unit that has leadership responsibilities for the Nation's emergency management system. FEMA is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security formed in 1979. The agency has its headquarters at Washington D C. The primary purpose of FEMA is to coordinate the response to a disaster that has occurred in the U.S. and that overwhelms the resources of local and state authorities. FEMA’s mission is to build, sustain, and improve the capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. FEMA also works with states, territories, and communities during non-disaster periods to help plan for disasters, develop mitigation programs, and anticipate what will be needed when major disasters occur. The agency provides state and local governments with experts in specialized fields and funding for rebuilding efforts and relief funds for infrastructure, in conjunction with the small business administration. FEMA also assists individuals and businesses with low interest loans. In addition to this, FEMA provides funds for training of response personnel throughout the U.S. and its territories.

FEMA works in partnership with other organizations that are part of the nation's emergency management system. These partners include state and local emergency management agencies, 27 federal agencies and the American Red Cross. The governor of the state in which the disaster occurs must declare a state of emergency and formally request from the president that FEMA and the federal government respond to the disaster. FEMA also provides these services for territories of the U.S. The only exception is when an emergency or disaster occurs on federal property or to a federal asset.