Stafford Act

The President of the USA recently invoked the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to free up 50 billion USD in federal aid for tackling the COVID-19 cases.


About the Act

The act governs federal assistance to emergencies and disasters in USA. The act empowers the US President to issue declarations to provide federal assistance to states and localities. Under this act, there are 3 types of declarations:

  • Fire management assistance grants
  • Emergencies
  • Major disasters


An emergency declaration implies the President’s decision to provide relief for the COVID-19 outbreak. It authorises activities to enable the states to carryout essential services to reduce the threat of future damage. It shifts 75% of the relief cost from the states to the federal government. Emergency can be declared even before the incident occurs.

Past Declarations

The Stafford Act had been invoked several times in the past. The number of times such declaration have been issued has been increasing since 1953. From 1974 to 2014, 9 emergency declarations had been issued. These were mainly for hurricanes, snow related incidents, droughts and storms.


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