The Robert T. Stanford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, commonly known as the Stanford Act, is a primary act governing the federal response to emergencies and disasters within United States and its borders. The legislation stipulates different aspects, namely, how emergencies and disasters are affirmed, the kind of support to be offered, and the cost sharing logistics between the local, state, and federal governments in the U.S (Hunter, 2009). The provisions of the Stanford Act and distribution logistics offered by the act are undertaken by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is the principal federal agency with the role of responding to emergencies and disasters.
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The Stafford Act determines two occasion levels – main disasters and emergencies. Emergencies in most cases are minor events, where a bounded federal responsibility will be sufficient. Major emergencies and disasters are bigger events from a storm in Buffalo to an earthquake in southern California that have an effect on millions of people and destruction of properties (Holmes, 2008).
Thus, there is no special response and no difference is offered in the provisions of the Stafford Act in the event of catastrophes such as major hurricanes and earthquakes. Therefore, the Stafford Act must be revised to incorporate a response level for major catastrophic events. It means that the act does not sufficiently acknowledge 21st century emergency threats to the citizens of the U.S. For instance, its definition on major emergencies and disasters does not include biological nuclear attacks, radiological, chemical or any terrorist attacks. Therefore, there is a need to revise the act to cover the 21st century threats and attacks, because they have embraced the modern strategies, which utilize the modern methods of averting any eventualities. Subsequent to most disasters, support offered by the Stafford Act is sufficient (Hunter, 2009).
Nevertheless, following a major catastrophic event, for example, the Hurricane Katrina or September 11 attacks, the level of support might not satisfy fundamental requirements. The restraints imposed by the act can unnecessarily limit recovery strategies (Holmes, 2008). These have very significant repercussions and leave out several types of disasters from getting full support and necessary assistance under the Stafford Act. For instance, civil disturbances, evacuee situations riots, and chemical, radiological, or nuclear incidents, or biological disasters in favor of themselves do not amount to major disasters under provisions of the Stafford Act.
The Stanford Act must be amended to get rid of the $ 5 million restriction on loans to compensate for lost tax revenue. In addition, some of provisions and sections of the Stanford Act that permit the federal government to finance overtime pay for public workers must be revisited to enable the federal government to pay the wages and salaries of both local and state workers in regions affected by disasters for a limited period of time. This will guarantee that regions stricken by the disaster are not affected by the dual challenge of a bankrupt local government and overpowering desolation to layoff employees (Hunter, 2009).
The Stanford Act only offers assistance to non-profit or public organizations and providers, hence falling short of accounting for the current industry that comprises of various profit firms, which are private in nature. Therefore, the act should be revised to cover utility workers in the event of catastrophe and allow the employees to be acknowledged as “emergency providers” in order to get security escorts and other basic priorities (Holmes, 2008).
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