Emergency management is governed by state and Federal law, regulations and policy. Under Louisiana law, emergency management is primarily governed by the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act (Louisiana Disaster Act) – Louisiana Revised Statute (LRS) Title 29:721 – 739. For a complete listing of all duties, refer to the Louisiana Disaster Act.
Failure to comply with authorities may jeopardize grant funding, especially as it relates to contracting + reasonable cost + record-keeping.
Although the Louisiana Disaster Act provides the legal authority for State and local officials to prepare for, respond to, recover from and mitigate for disasters, Federal laws, regulations and policies play a large and necessary part in emergency management. Once the first dollar of Federal funds is accepted by an subrecipient following a Presidentially declared emergency or disaster, the actions of that subrecipient are governed by those authorities, which are:
- Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act)
- Emergency Management and Assistance Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)
- Grants and Agreements
- Office of Management and Budgets (OMB) Circulars
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides guidance for the implementation of law, regulation and policy emergency assistance funding. Some helpful publications include:
- FEMA Public Assistance (PA) Guide
- FEMA Debris Management Guide
- FEMA 9500 Policy Series and any disaster specific guidance issued by FEMA
- FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA)
Roles + Responsibilities
Under State law the Governor, GOHSEP, Director of GOHSEP, Parish President, Director of the Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (OHSEP) and municipalities have roles and responsibilities throughout the emergency management cycle. Those duties are generally described below. A comprehensive list of duties both pre- and post-disaster can be found in the Louisiana Disaster Act.
The Governor is responsible for protecting the citizens of Louisiana from the dangers presented by threats, emergencies or disasters. To meet this responsibility and pursuant to the Louisiana Disaster Act, the Governor is empowered to:
- Declare a state of emergency for the State.
- Activate the State’s emergency response plan and recovery program.
- Establish the Unified Command Group (UCG) and serve as its Commander.
- Direct and compel evacuations
- Control ingress, egress, the movement of persons and occupancy of premises within declared disaster areas.
- Suspend State regulatory statutes.
- Utilize all available resources of State government to cope with the disaster.
- Transfer the direction, personnel or functions of State departments and agencies
- Commandeer or utilize private property.
- Prescribe routes, transportation and destinations for evacuations.
- Suspend or limit the sale and dispensing of alcoholic beverages, firearms, explosives and combustibles.
- Provide for temporary housing.
The Director of GOHSEP
– as its executive head – is responsible for homeland security and emergency management for the State
. In that role, the Director has authority and responsibility to:
- Maintain liaisons and cooperate with homeland security and emergency management agencies from other states and with the Federal government.
- Give directives to other State agencies and departments relating to emergency planning and operations.
- Direct the activities of the Office of Interoperability.
- Serve as Deputy Director of UCG.
- Serve on the Regional Parish OHSEP Parish Directors Subcommittee (Regional Directors Subcommittee).
- Appoint Regional Coordinators (RCs).
- Promote mutual aid and interjurisdictional agreements between Parishes.
- In addition to those items stated in the statute, do other things, incidental or appropriate to fulfill the responsibilities required under the Louisiana Disaster Act.
The term “Parish President” applies to Parish President and Police Jury President. The Parish President is responsible for homeland security and emergency preparedness in the Parish. In that role he/she is empowered to:
- Establish an office and maintain an agency of homeland security and emergency preparedness for the Parish.
Upon a declaration of emergency, powers of the Parish President are the same as the Governor, but limited to the Parish jurisdiction.
- Declare states of emergency for the Parish
- Issue evacuation orders and impose curfews.
- Request assistance from GOHSEP when disaster response and recovery are beyond the capability of the Parish to address.
- Form a Parish Emergency Management
- Advisory Committee (PEMAC) and serve as its chairperson or delegate it to the Parish OHSEP.
- Enter into interjurisdictional homeland security and emergency preparedness agreements.
Parish OHSEP Director
The OHSEP Director is appointed by the Parish President and has direct responsibility for the organization, administration and operation of the Parish OHSEP, subject to the direction and control of the Parish President and the general direction of the Governor and GOHSEP. A detailed discussion of his/her duties is included in the OHSEP Director Responsibilities section of this Manual.
Municipality Chief Executive Officer
In the event of an emergency or disaster that threatens the public peace, health or safety within the municipality, the Chief Executive Officer may also declare a state of emergency for the municipality. The declaration of a state of emergency grants the chief executive officer similar powers to that of the Governor and Parish President, but limited to the municipality to respond to the emergency or disaster. When the Chief Executive Officer of a municipality undertakes emergency response measures, he/she is to immediately notify the Parish President. When the disaster or emergency is beyond the capabilities of the municipality, the municipality requests assistance from GOHSEP (LRS 29:737) or through the Parish OHSEP.
Other Roles + Responsibilities of Interest
Regional Coordinators (RCs)
Louisiana is divided into nine (9) emergency management and homeland security planning Regions, which GOHSEP uses in conjunction with its Regional Support Program. Each Region has a State Regional Coordinator (RC), a GOHSEP employee who acts as a liaison between the Parishes within the Region and GOHSEP. RCs work closely with Regional OHSEP Directors as well as Parish OHSEP Directors.
Regional OHSEP Directors
Each of the nine (9) Louisiana emergency management and HLS planning Regions is represented by a Parish OHSEP Director. Regional Directors provide leadership for the Parishes within the Region and serve as a voice for the Region, raising homeland security and emergency management-related issues to the State level.
Regional Directors Subcommittee
The Regional Directors Subcommittee ensures that Parish OHSEP Directors always have a formal direct line of communication with the Director of GOHSEP. The Subcommittee is composed of one (1) Parish OHSEP Director from each of the nine (9) GOHSEP Regions and the Director of GOHSEP or his/her designee. Representatives are selected amongst their peers and represent their Region. The Regional Directors Subcommittee’s purpose is planning and advising on strategic emergency management issues from a regional perspective.
Unified Command Group (UCG)
The State UCG is composed of members appointed by Executive Order of the Governor. It is the strategic decision-making body for emergencies. It provides a unified and coordinated approach to emergency incident management, enabling institutions and agencies with different legal, geographic and functional responsibilities to coordinate, plan and interact effectively.