There are two types of Declarations provided for in the Stafford Act:Emergency Declarations and Major Disaster Declarations. Both declaration types authorize the President to provide Federal disaster assistance. However, the cause of the declaration and type and amount of assistance differ.
An Emergency Declaration Can be declared for any occasion or instance when the President determines Federal assistance is needed to supplement State and local efforts and capabilities to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat ofa catastrophe in any part of the United States.The amount of emergency assistance is capped at $5 million per single event unless continued assistance is needed to alleviate a threat to lives, public health, and safety.
The President can declare a Major Disaster Declaration for any natural event (including any hurricane, tornado, storm, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, or drought) or, regardless of cause, any fire, flood, or explosion, that the President believes has caused damage of such severity and magnitude that it is beyond the combined capabilities of State and local governments and disaster relief organizations to respond. A major disaster declaration provides a wide range of Federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work.