The recovery effort usually follows these steps after a disaster event occurs:
- Local Government responds to the local emergency, supplemented by neighboring communities and volunteer agencies. If the local government is unable to adequately respond to the emergency, they turn to the state for assistance.
- The Local Government declares an Emergency Proclamation, which allows the state to respond with aid to the emergency.
- The State responds with state resources, such as the National Guard and state agencies.
- A Preliminary Damage Assessment is made by local, state, federal, and volunteer organizations to determine losses and recovery needs.
- If necessary, a State Disaster Declaration is declared by the governor, based on the damage assessment, and an agreement to commit state funds and resources to the long-term recovery. The California Disaster Assistance Act (CDAA) funding may be made available to eligible applicants.
- If the disaster is large enough, the Governor will request federal assistance. FEMA evaluates the request and recommends an action to the White House based on the disaster, the local community and the state's ability to recover.
- The President approves the request for federal disaster funding or FEMA informs the governor it has been denied. This decision process could take a few hours or several weeks depending on the nature of the disaster.
- Recovery efforts begin in conjunction with federal, state and local agencies.
- Applicants are encouraged to apply for either state (CDAA) or federal disaster recovery funding by submitting an application to Cal EMA within 30 days of the date of the declaration.