Environment | National

Eastern Cherokees get first disaster declaration under new law

Eastern Band of Cherokee Emergency Management: Mollie Grant, Manager, and David Wachacha, Assistant Emergency Management Coordinator. Photo courtesy Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

President Barack Obama issued a disaster declaration for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians on Friday, the first of its kind under a new law that recognizes tribal sovereignty.

For decades, only states were able able to request disaster declarations under the Stafford Act. But Obama signed H.R.152 into law in January to give tribes their own seat at the table.

“We did not necessarily anticipate being the first tribe to receive the declaration. But I think through the recent disaster that we had with all of the flooding, we’re glad that we could set a stage for other tribes throughout the nation,” Principal Chief Michell Hicks said in a press release.

The disaster declaration allows the tribe to receive a direct line of funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The reservation suffered damage from severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides in January.

Get the Story:
EBCI first tribe to receive FEMA funds under Stafford Act (The Cherokee One Feather 3/4)

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USET: Tribes get a seat at the table with disaster declarations (02/07)
Tribes hail passage of bill with disaster declaration provision (02/01)
Congress passes bill with tribal disaster declaration section (1/29)

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