EPA's Role in Disaster Recovery

Disaster response and recovery are two separate but coordinated phases of disaster relief that may overlap.

Response - which EPA carries out under the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan and the National Response Framework is typically conducted on a weeks to months timeframe for any large scale events and addresses immediate health and safety needs of the affected community.

Recovery - which EPA carries out under the National Disaster Recovery Framework is a process that can last years and focuses on long-term restoration of places and communities affected by disaster.

EPA's objectives for recovery operations:

  • Build preparedness to mitigate future events - lessen the impacts of disasters by assisting federal, state and local agencies and communities prior to disasters.
  • Promote sustainable and resilient rebuilding - use EPA's expertise to inform communities, state and federal partners about rebuilding for the long-term viability of regions' people, economies and natural ecosystems.
  • Apply EPA knowledge - provide EPA's expertise to other Federal agencies, state and communities in areas of EPA responsibility such as drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, brownfields, air quality, or oil and hazardous materials clean-up.
  • Streamline federal action - work with partner agencies to streamline Federal oversight to efficiently fulfill statutory, permitting and/or enforcement requirements in a timely fashion.
  • Partner with environmental justice/disadvantaged communities - actively engage vulnerable and overburdened communities so they can meaningfully participate and have their issues addressed during recovery operations and planning.

Depending on the nature of the disaster, over 20 EPA existing programs may become involved in disaster recovery operations, including:

Clean Water State Revolving Fund ORD/Homeland Security Research Brownfields
Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Climate Showcase Grant Program NEPA
Global Climate Change Adaptation Sustainable Communities Tribal Affairs
Agriculture Assistance Air, including Indoor Air and Fuel Waivers Energy Star
Enforcement and Environmental Justice    

For more information on general preparedness and response tips, see our page on Natural Disasters.