There once was a time when snow and ice were not the subject of disaster declarations. In fact the Fire, flood, or explosion litany of the disaster legislation often seemed to not even include those hazards. Snowstorms have now been added.
The current definition reads:
"Major disaster” means any natural catastrophe (including any hurricane, tornado,
storm, high water, winddriven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic
eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, or drought), or, regardless of cause, any
fire, flood, or explosion, in any part of the United States, which in the determination
of the President causes damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant
major disaster assistance under this Act to supplement the efforts and available
resources of States, local governments, and disaster relief organizations in
alleviating the damage, loss, hardship, or suffering caused thereby."
Thus icestorms and energy outages are not specifically listed unless accompanied by one of the listed hazards or the specifically named ones--fire, flood or explosion. And of course radiological releases and terrorist attacks are also not specifically listed or generically listed.
Well it will be interesting to see exactly what FEMA and DHS do in the event of a prolonged icestorm or energy outage or even what their plans and capabilities are in fact. A large ice storm in KY last winter has resulted in an outpouring of disaster largess and surely this was partially the result of efforts by the long serving Congressman from KY Fifth Congressional District now chair of the House Appropriations Committee in the forthcoming 112th Congress.
Not relying on FEMA documentation of capability (there is little to rely upon) but open source materials on other agencies including the Department of Energy a mass and long term outage of power in a major metropolitan area--I would argue the top 500--would result in deaths and damages that would or should qualify this for major disaster status. Perhaps in the South and West, as both FRANCE and Russia have now experienced, heat wave deaths in unairconditioned shelter can be devastating to URBAN populations.
So suggesting that these situations be added to the planning scenarios and any statutory issues be addressed in the 112th Congress.
Winter now but yes with the winter solstice arriving summer now the solstice after next.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to all.