State of Emergency Declarations
Southern Utah has taken a severe weather beating this winter, being subjected to floods and severe storms. Governor Gary Herbert recently declared this region a state of emergency by executive order, which he has the authority to do under Utah Code Title 63K, Chapter 4, the Disaster Response and Recovery Act. The Governor's executive orders are published in the Utah State Bulletin, with the state of emergency declaration to be published in the February 15th, 2011, issue.
The Governor recently announced he is requesting the White House officially declare southern Utah a major disaster area, enabling Utah to qualify for Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) funds to help the area recover.
The process for a state governor to ask that an area be considered a disaster area is governed by the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq.). The request is made to a regional FEMA office. FEMA and state officials then usually conduct a Preliminary Damage Assessment. The criteria for evaluating a state's request can be found in 44 CFR §206.48. FEMA can make recommendations whether a state receives aid, but it is ultimately the President's decision whether a disaster is declared and whether federal funds will be distributed to the state.
To see where else FEMA has declared disaster areas (with historical declarations back to 1953), check out FEMA's Federal Disaster Declarations page.