United States Code

USC most recently checked for updates: Apr 22, 2024

§ 5170b.
Essential assistance
In general
Federal agencies may on the direction of the President, provide assistance essential to meeting immediate threats to life and property resulting from a major disaster, as follows:
Federal resources, generally

Utilizing, lending, or donating to State and local governments Federal equipment, supplies, facilities, personnel, and other resources, other than the extension of credit, for use or distribution by such governments in accordance with the purposes of this chapter.

Medicine, food, and other consumables

Distributing or rendering through State and local governments, the American National Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Mennonite Disaster Service, and other relief and disaster assistance organizations medicine durable medical equipment,,1

 So in original. The extra comma probably should follow “medicine”.
food, and other consumable supplies, and other services and assistance to disaster victims.

Work and services to save lives and protect property
Performing on public or private lands or waters any work or services essential to saving lives and protecting and preserving property or public health and safety, including—
debris removal;
search and rescue, emergency medical care, emergency mass care, emergency shelter, and provision of food, water, medicine durable medical equipment,,1 and other essential needs, including movement of supplies or persons;
clearance of roads and construction of temporary bridges necessary to the performance of emergency tasks and essential community services;
provision of temporary facilities for schools and other essential community services;
demolition of unsafe structures which endanger the public;
warning of further risks and hazards;
dissemination of public information and assistance regarding health and safety measures;
provision of technical advice to State and local governments on disaster management and control;
reduction of immediate threats to life, property, and public health and safety; and
provision of rescue, care, shelter, and essential needs—
to individuals with household pets and service animals; and
to such pets and animals.

Making contributions to State or local governments or owners or operators of private nonprofit facilities for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this subsection.

Federal share

The Federal share of assistance under this section shall be not less than 75 percent of the eligible cost of such assistance.

Utilization of DOD resources
General rule

During the immediate aftermath of an incident which may ultimately qualify for assistance under this subchapter or subchapter IV-A of this chapter, the Governor of the State in which such incident occurred may request the President to direct the Secretary of Defense to utilize the resources of the Department of Defense for the purpose of performing on public and private lands any emergency work which is made necessary by such incident and which is essential for the preservation of life and property. If the President determines that such work is essential for the preservation of life and property, the President shall grant such request to the extent the President determines practicable. Such emergency work may only be carried out for a period not to exceed 10 days.

Rules applicable to debris removal

Any removal of debris and wreckage carried out under this subsection shall be subject to section 5173(b) of this title, relating to unconditional authorization and indemnification for debris removal.

Expenditures out of disaster relief funds

The cost of any assistance provided pursuant to this subsection shall be reimbursed out of funds made available to carry out this chapter.

Federal share

The Federal share of assistance under this subsection shall be not less than 75 percent.


Not later than 180 days after November 23, 1988, the President shall issue guidelines for carrying out this subsection. Such guidelines shall consider any likely effect assistance under this subsection will have on the availability of other forms of assistance under this chapter.

For purposes of this section—
Department of Defense

The term “Department of Defense” has the meaning the term “department” has under section 101 of title 10.

Emergency work

The term “emergency work” includes clearance and removal of debris and wreckage and temporary restoration of essential public facilities and services.

Salaries and benefits
In general
If the President declares a major disaster or emergency for an area within the jurisdiction of a State, tribal, or local government, the President may reimburse the State, tribal, or local government for costs relating to—
basic pay and benefits for permanent employees of the State, tribal, or local government conducting emergency protective measures under this section, if—
the work is not typically performed by the employees; and
the type of work may otherwise be carried out by contract or agreement with private organizations, firms, or individuals.; 2
 So in original.
overtime and hazardous duty compensation for permanent employees of the State, tribal, or local government conducting emergency protective measures under this section.

The guidelines for reimbursement for costs under paragraph (1) shall ensure that no State, tribal, or local government is denied reimbursement for overtime payments that are required pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 201 et seq.).

No effect on mutual aid pacts

Nothing in this subsection shall affect the ability of the President to reimburse labor force expenses provided pursuant to an authorized mutual aid pact.

(Pub. L. 93–288, title IV, § 403, as added Pub. L. 100–707, title I, § 106(a)(3), Nov. 23, 1988, 102 Stat. 4697; amended Pub. L. 109–295, title VI, § 689(b), Oct. 4, 2006, 120 Stat. 1449; Pub. L. 109–308, § 4, Oct. 6, 2006, 120 Stat. 1726; Pub. L. 113–2, div. B, § 1108(b), Jan. 29, 2013, 127 Stat. 47; Pub. L. 115–254, div. D, § 1217(d), Oct. 5, 2018, 132 Stat. 3452.)
cite as: 42 USC 5170b