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The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1988 provides a means by which the federal government can assist local and state agencies, including public schools, when major disasters or emergencies threaten to overwhelm them. The Stafford Act authorizes the president of the United States to declare “a major disaster” or “an emergency,” whichever is more appropriate in a given situation. In either case, the presidential declaration authorizes a wide range of federal services and resources to supplement limited local and state resources. In all instances, federal assistance is intended to augment state and local attempts to resolve the crisis, and federal funds may not be committed until the state and local agencies document maximum effort.

Last reauthorized in 2000, the Stafford Act ...

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