Navajo President’s Executive Order to Streamline FEMA Funds When Disasters Hit

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly signed Executive Order, which provides policies and procedures to administer FEMA grants and projects. Navajo Nation Department of Emergency Management, FEMA and the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program joined President Shelly for the signing ceremony in Window Rock. (Photo by Rick Abasta)

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly signed Executive Order, which provides policies and procedures to administer FEMA grants and projects. Navajo Nation Department of Emergency Management, FEMA and the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program joined President Shelly for the signing ceremony in Window Rock. (Photo by Rick Abasta)

WINDOW ROCK, ARIZONA— Site visits are underway on the Navajo Nation, one week after Navajo President Ben Shelly signed Executive Order No. 09-2014, which provides policies and procedures to administer grants and projects from FEMA.

“This executive order will streamline the process for the Navajo Nation and FEMA to respond to emergencies quickly and efficiently,” said President Shelly.

The executive order mandates internal policies that will govern FEMA grants awarded to the Nation as a grantee. Additionally, the Navajo Nation may also be designated as a sub-grantee of FEMA grants awarded to Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

“These policies and procedures are not only instrumental for the Nation to administer FEMA grants, but they also strengthen our ability to work with the states during times of disasters,” President Shelly said.

“The executive order assists with our rollout of new policies and procedures that will get the FEMA funds to chapters and programs a lot faster than in previous years,” said Rose Whitehair, director for the Navajo Nation Department of Emergency Management.

“For Indian country, we need emergency managers and trained personnel in the worst way,” she said.

The site visits across the Navajo Nation being done so FEMA officials can review damages from the monsoon of 2013 that caused severe damage on at various locations on the reservation.

FEMA personnel from the national level have been on the Navajo Nation for weeks, identifying New Mexico chapters that incurred damage from the summer monsoon season.

The need for Navajo speaking emergency coordinators is legitimate, especially at the chapter level for communication purposes. Beyond the obvious interaction considerations, trained tribal personnel are also needed to provide appropriate cultural sensitivity during emergency situations.

“This is an opportunity for us to do the right thing,” said George Kelly Casias, FEMA Tribal Liaison assigned to the Navajo Nation.

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