Mississippi Emergency Management and Homeland Security Authorities Summarized.
CRS Report for Congress
Mississippi Emergency Management and
Homeland Security Authorities Summarized
Updated September 2, 2005
Specialist in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
L. Cheryl Runyon and Kae M. Warnock
Government and Finance Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Mississippi Emergency Management and Homeland
Security Authorities Summarized
Mississippi’s Emergency Management Law requires the coordination of
activities relating to emergency preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation
among state agencies, as well as with similar agencies of other states, local and
federal governments, interstate organizations, and the private sector. The law created
the state Emergency Management Agency (EMA), authorizes the establishment of
local organizations for emergency management, and confers emergency powers upon
the governor, EMA, and governing bodies of the municipalities and counties. The
state government may be relocated during an emergency.
This report is one of a series that profiles emergency management and homeland
security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico,
American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each profile identifies the
more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. Congressional
readers may wish to conduct further searches for related provisions using the Internet
link presented in the last section of this report. The National Conference of State
Legislatures provided primary research assistance in the development of these
profiles under contract to the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Summary
information on all of the profiles is presented in CRS Report RL32287, Emergency
Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities in the States, District of
Columbia, and Insular Areas: A Summary. This report will be updated as
Entities with Key Responsibilities.................................1
Types of Assistance............................................4
Continuity of Government Operations..............................7
For Further Research...........................................9
List of Tables
Table 1. Key Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Terms Defined in Mississippi Statutes, with Citations.................8
Mississippi Emergency Management and
Homeland Security Authorities Summarized
Entities with Key Responsibilities
Governor: The governor is the commander-in-chief of the “army and navy of
the state” as well as the militia, except when called into federal service (Miss.
Constitution Article V, Section 119).
The governor exercises general direction and control of the Emergency
Management Agency (EMA). In the event of a disaster or emergency beyond local
control, the governor may assume direct operational control of state emergency
management functions. The governor may make or change directives; enter into
disaster assistance grants and agreements with the federal government; and work with
EMA in preparing state and local emergency management plans. The governor is
authorized to determine needs for food, clothing or other necessities of life in the
event of attack, natural, man-made or technological disasters, and to procure supplies,
medicines, materials, and equipment. The governor is also authorized to determine
needed resources and facilities; institute training and public information programs;
and cooperate with the President, federal agencies, and other states in matters
pertaining to civil defense, including blackouts, mobilization of emergency services
and civil defense forces, the suspension of utility services, and the evacuation and
reception of the civilian population. The governor may direct state and local law
enforcement agencies and boards of health as necessary, and is required to use the
services and facilities of existing state officers and agencies and political
subdivisions (Miss. Code Ann. § 33-15-11(b)(1-9)). The governor may suspend or
limit the sale, dispensation or transportation of alcoholic beverages, firearms,
explosives and combustibles and control, restrict and regulate the use, sale or
distribution of food, feed, fuel, clothing, and other commodities (Miss. Code Ann.
§ 33-15-11(b) (14-15)).
During an impending or actual enemy attack, or a disaster that exceeds local
control capabilities, the governor may suspend the provisions of any statute, order,
rule or regulation if strict compliance would prevent or delay necessary action;
transfer the direction, personnel or functions of state agencies, boards or
commissions; and commandeer private property, provided that reimbursement is
made (Miss. Code Ann. 33-15-11(c)).
When the governor proclaims that a state of war emergency exists, he or she
may commandeer any private property for the protection of the public, or at the
request of the President, “the Armed Forces or the Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA).” The governor may also sell, lend, or distribute property among
the inhabitants of the state, but must provide adequate compensation for any property
taken (Miss. Code Ann. § 33-15-13).
Emergency Management Agency: EMA has been created within the executive
branch with a director appointed by the governor. The director coordinates all
emergency management organizations within the state and cooperates with other
states and the federal government (Miss. Code Ann. § 33-15-7). The agency works
with the governor to prepare an emergency management plan coordinated with
federal state plans to the fullest possible extent. The plan must include evacuation,
shelter, postdisaster response, and recovery components. It is also required to
coordinate the deployment of state resources; establish a communications and
warning system; and institute annual training exercises. EMA is to adopt standards
and requirements for local emergency management plans, ascertain the needs for
equipment and supplies, and plan for or procure supplies, medicine and equipment;
use any property, services and resources within the state; anticipate trends and
promote innovations; implement training programs; prepare executive orders for the
governor; assist political subdivisions with the creation of urban search and rescue
teams; report biennially to the governor, senate president, and the speaker of the
house; and create, administer, amend and rescind rules regarding the development of
the Mississippi Disaster Reservist Program (Miss. Code Ann. § 33-15-14).
State emergency coordination officers: Officers are selected by the head of each
state department, agency or commission and are responsible for coordinating with
EMA on emergency preparedness issues, preparing and maintaining emergency
preparedness and postdisaster response and recovery plans. Emergency coordination
officers maintain rosters of personnel ready to assist in disaster operations; coordinate
training; and ensure that state facilities have an approved disaster preparedness plan
(Miss. Code Ann. § 33-15-53).
Local emergency management organization: Counties and municipalities,
independently or jointly, are authorized to establish local organizations for
emergency management. Each local organization must have a director appointed by
the local governing body, or bodies acting jointly. Each local organization performs
emergency management functions within its territorial limits and outside those limits
as required. All local plans are coordinated with the state emergency management
plan. When any disaster occurs, a local organization may enter into contracts and
incur obligations necessary to protect health and safety, and provide emergency
assistance to disaster victims. Each county and municipality, or the counties acting
jointly, has the authority to appropriate and expend funds; make contracts; and obtain
and distribute equipment and supplies. A local organization is authorized to provide,
with or without compensation, emergency management workers; establish, as
necessary, a primary, and one or more secondary, emergency operating centers to
provide continuity of government; direct emergency operations; order the evacuation
of any area; and control or restrict egress, ingress and movement within the disaster
area (Miss. Code Ann. § 33-15-17).
The statute authorizes the governing bodies of political subdivisions and other
designated agencies to make, amend, and rescind orders, rules, and regulations as
necessary for emergency management purposes. All laws, ordinances, rules and
regulations inconsistent with emergency management purposes are to be suspended
during a disaster or emergency (Miss. Code Ann. § 33-15-31).
Chief administrative officer of municipality: Each chief administrative officer
is authorized to order changes in commerce regulations and issue other orders
necessary for the protection of life and property (Miss. Code Ann. § 45-17-7).
Radiation Advisory Council: The statute established the council as a separate
division of the state board of health. The statute authorizes the board to respond to
any emergency that involves the possible or actual release of radioactive material,
and authorizes the governor to enter into agreements with the federal government,
other states or interstate agencies, and to cooperate in emergency response to
radiation accidents. The board may also impound sources of radiation in an
emergency (Miss. Code Ann. §45-14-7 to 23).
See also “Entities with Key Responsibilities”—Governor.
The EMA is authorized to create mobile support units as necessary to reinforce
disaster organizations in stricken areas and to appoint a commander for each unit.
Mobile support units perform their functions in any part of the state or, under certain
conditions, in other states. The statute gives emergency support units from other
states the same powers, duties, rights, privileges and immunities as those within the
state (Miss. Code Ann. § 33-15-15).
The governor is authorized, through the commissioner of public safety, to
organize the ready reserve of the highway patrol (Miss. Code Ann. § 33-15-11(13)).
The governor may proclaim a state of emergency in an area affected or likely to
be affected by an emergency beyond local control, or when requested to do so by the
mayor of a municipality or the president of the board of supervisors of a county. The
governor is to review the need for continuing the state of emergency at least every 30
days until the emergency is terminated (Miss. Code Ann. §33-15-11(b)(16)).
In the event of an actual or impending enemy attack, as determined by the
President, the governor may proclaim that a state of war emergency exists. The
statute gives the governor additional emergency powers to protect the public and
procure emergency supplies and services. All additional emergency powers granted
to the governor terminate when the state of war emergency has been terminated by
proclamation of the governor, or by concurrent resolution of the legislature (Miss.
Code Ann. § 33-15-13).
A local emergency may be proclaimed by the governing body of a municipality
or county. The governing body shall review the need for continuing the local
emergency at least every seven days until the local emergency is terminated. During
a local emergency, the governing body may promulgate orders and regulations
necessary to provide for the protection of life and property, including imposing
curfews (Miss. Code Ann. §33-15-17(d)).
The chief administrative officer of any municipality may proclaim that a civil
emergency exists (Miss. Code Ann. § 45-17-3).
Types of Assistance
The director of EMA includes the individuals and family grant program in the
state natural disaster plan. Individuals or families who incur a necessary expense or
serious need in a major disaster area may be eligible for assistance without regard to
their residency. Those otherwise eligible for assistance must obtain flood insurance
as required. The authority excludes business losses, improvements, additions,
landscaping, and certain other expenses from grant eligibility (Miss. Code Ann. § 33-
During a declared disaster the governor may make arrangements with any
federal agency to provide for temporary housing units to be occupied by disaster
victims and to make units available to any political subdivision. State-owned
equipment and employees may be used to transport, store or maintain temporary
housing units, and employees may help political subdivisions acquire sites. Funds
may be advanced or lent from appropriations or “pass-through” federal funds. The
governor may suspend or modify statutory requirements when necessary to provide
temporary housing. The statute sets eligibility criteria and the period for occupancy,
and permits temporary housing to be sold as permanent housing (Miss. Code Ann.
§ 33-15-217 to 223).
During a presidentially declared disaster, and after a declaration has been issued
by the governor, the statute permits a preliminary injunction to be filed against any
foreclosure proceeding where mortgaged property has depreciated in excess of 15%
of the previous fair market value because of the disaster. Persons or property must
be directly damaged in an enemy attack, or a man-made, technological or natural
disaster. The statute also permits a preliminary injunction against foreclosure
proceedings if the petitioner is unable to pay on the mortgage debt because they have
sustained a loss in income derived from the mortgaged property, or is threatened with
loss as a result of the disaster. The statute sets limits and provisions for the
preliminary injunction to be dissolved (Miss. Code Ann. § 89-1-301).
In the event of an impending enemy attack, an enemy attack, or a man-made,
technological or natural disaster, and the President, governor, or a governing body
issues a declaration, local authorities may use county- or municipally-owned
equipment and public employees to remove debris from private property at owners’
request, or perform any other necessary and needed services to prevent the spread of
disease or any other health hazard. If functions cannot be performed, aid may be
requested from other counties and municipalities. The statute authorizes state
agencies to enter upon publicly or privately owned land or water to clear or remove
debris and wreckage when local authorities lack sufficient equipment and personnel
(Miss. Code Ann. § 33-15-49).
The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) is codified (Miss.
Code Ann. Chapter 45-18-1 et. seq.).
The governor may enter into reciprocal aid agreements or compacts with other
states and the federal government, or with a neighboring state or province of a
foreign country. The statute limits mutual aid arrangements to essential supplies and
services and provides for the reimbursement of costs and expenses. The governor
may sponsor and develop mutual aid plans between and among political subdivisions
(Miss. Code Ann. § 33-15-11(b)(10-11)).
Local governing bodies are authorized to enter into mutual aid agreements
within the state for reciprocal aid and assistance in case a disaster or emergency is too
extensive to be managed without assistance. The governor may enter into compacts
with any state or group of states to meet common intergovernmental problems of
emergency management, mitigation, response and recovery (Miss. Code Ann. § 33-
The statute permits municipalities to procure additional law enforcement
officers through reciprocal assistance from other municipalities during a state of civil
emergency of statewide concern (Miss. Code Ann. § 21-21-31). Any municipality,
its mayor, chief administrative officer, or chief of police may make provision for its
law enforcement officers to assist any other municipality during a state of civil
emergency, natural disaster or manmade calamity, in order to protect the health, life
and property of the municipality and its inhabitants (Miss. Code Ann. § 21-21-35).
The Interstate Earthquake Emergency Compact is codified (Miss. Code Ann.
The South Central Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact is codified (Miss.
Code Ann. § 49-19-141 to 149).
The Southeastern Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact is codified (Miss.
Code Ann. § 49-19-171 to 179).
The statute authorizes any state agency to create a special emergency
management revolving fund, accept donations, contributions, fees, and grants,
including federal funds, to administer its functions (Miss. Code Ann. § 33-15-
The statute authorizes local governments, school districts, port authorities, and
other public agencies at the community or state level which qualify for funds and
benefits under the U.S Disaster Relief Act of 1970 to accept and disburse funds
(Miss. Code Ann. § 27-107-31).
The board of supervisors of a county or any governing body of a municipality
is authorized to expend any available funds from its general fund to pay any expenses
of its local emergency management organization (Miss. Code Ann. § 33-15-23).
The statute authorizes the governor to enter into agreements with the federal
government for the purpose of matching any federal funds that may be made
available for emergency management purposes, including purchasing equipment and
supplies. The statute sets limits on obligations. Any county board of supervisors or
municipal governing body may enter into an agreement with the federal government,
with the approval of the EMA director, for matching funds. Funds may be expended
from the county or municipality general fund or other funds available for emergency
management purposes in order to provide necessary local funds for the matching
agreement. A state agency may withhold from any county, municipality or not-for-
profit entity a portion or all of a subgrant if the entity owes a refund on any past
project that was not completed as required (Miss. Code Ann. § 33-15-25).
The statute authorizes the state or any political subdivision to accept a grant
from the federal government or others for services, equipment, supplies, materials or
funds by way of a gift, grant or loan, for purposes of emergency management (Miss.
Code Ann. § 33-15-27).
Disaster Assistance Act of 1993: The statute was enacted to provide funds to
meet emergencies or major disasters. Provisions are to be invoked only during a
declared emergency or major disaster or by order of the director to provide state or
local government resources and personnel in compliance with EMAC, or may be
used for administrative and training costs for disaster response and recovery
programs. Funds originate from appropriations and other specified sources. The
funds are to be used for the state’s portion of the cost share for public assistance,
hazard mitigation, certain other programs, the administrative costs of these programs,
and the costs of implementation of the Disaster Reservist Program. The statute sets
a limit on the amount that may be transferred, and allows unexpended funds to be
used for any emergency management purpose (Miss. Code Ann. § 33-15-301 to § 33-
When the President, upon gubernatorial request, declares a major disaster in the
state, the governor may: accept a grant from the federal government to meet disaster-
related expenses or serious needs of individuals or families that cannot otherwise be
adequately met; pledge state participation in the financial assistance up to 25%; and
accept an advance of the state share of federal funds to be repaid when the state is
able to do so (Miss. Code Ann. § 33-15-205). The governor must file a request for
federal assistance in order to make assistance available to major disaster victims
(Miss. Code Ann. § 33-15-207).
During a federally declared disaster, the state cost-share shall be equal to 25%
of the actual cost of implementing the Other Needs Assistance Program, on the
condition that the federal government provides the remaining 75% of the ONA
grant. If the governor declares an emergency the state grant shall be equal to an
amount established by the director of EMA. The statute sets annual limits on
individual and family grants (Miss. Code Ann. § 33-15-211).
The governor may make recommendations to the legislature, building code
organizations and political subdivisions for preparedness, prevention and mitigation
measures (Miss. Code Ann. § 33-15-14(2)(a)(viii)2(e)).
Continuity of Government Operations
Whenever, due to an enemy attack, or a threatened enemy attack, it becomes
imprudent, inexpedient or impossible to conduct the affairs of any local government
at the regular place, the governing body may establish an emergency temporary
location, within or without the state (Miss. Code Ann. § 17-7-1). When public
business is being conducted at the emergency temporary location, the governing body
and other officers exercise all of their executive, legislative and judicial powers and
functions (Miss. Code Ann. § 17-7-3).
The governor may convene the legislature in extraordinary session whenever the
public interest requires it at the seat of government, or at a different place due to
dangers posed by an enemy or disease (Miss. Constitution Article V, Section 121).
The state tax commission is authorized to waive taxes and fees on common and
commercial carriers when motor vehicles are operated on highways in response to an
emergency, major disaster, or the threat of a major disaster (Miss. Code Ann. § 27-
The statute grants immunity from civil liability to persons who voluntarily and
without compensation permit property to be used as a public shelter or provide
assistance to persons during or in recovery from an actual, impending, mock or
practice attack or any man-made, technological or natural disaster (Miss. Code Ann.
Any county or municipality may confer the powers of peace officers upon
members of emergency management auxiliary police units, with the approval of the
sheriff or chief of police (Miss. Code Ann. § 33-15-39).
Subversive Activities and Communist Control Law: The statute regulates
subversive activities of communist organizations directed against the state and its
people, and gives the secretary of state the power to request that the attorney general
investigate organizations. The district attorney having proper jurisdiction, or the
attorney general, has the power to proceed by injunction or otherwise to dissolve an
organization designated as a subversive or communist-front group by the United
States Attorney General, or a congressional committee on un-American activities.
The statute requires the registration of organizations and their membership with the
secretary of state and prohibits groups from assembling or meeting without
registration (Miss. Code Ann. §45-19 et. seq.).
Table 1. Key Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Terms Defined in Mississippi Statutes, with Citations
Assistance from other Miss. Code Ann. § 33-15-203(f)
Civil defenseMiss. Code Ann. § 33-15-5 (d)
Catastrophic disasterMiss. Code Ann. § 33-15-5(m)(i)
Civil emergencyMiss. Code Ann. § 45-17-1(a)
CurfewMiss. Code Ann. § 45-17-1(b)
DirectorMiss. Code Ann. § 33-15-305(a)
DisasterMiss. Code Ann. §§ 33-15-305(b), 33-15-5(m)
Disaster ReservistMiss. Code Ann. § 33-15-5 (n)
EmergencyMiss. Code Ann. § 33-15-5(h), § 43-41-3(g)
Emergency managementMiss. Code Ann. § 33-15-5(c)
Federal assistanceMiss. Code Ann. § 33-15-203 (m)
Local emergencyMiss. Code Ann. §§ 33-15-5(g), 33-15-305(d)
Local emergencyMiss. Code Ann. § 33-15-5(l)
Major disasterMiss. Code Ann. §§ 33-15-5(m)(ii), 43-41-3 (i)
Man-made emergencyMiss. Code Ann. § 33-15-5(h)(i)
Minor disasterMiss. Code Ann. § 33-15-5(m) (iii)
Natural emergencyMiss. Code Ann. § 33-15-5(j)
Necessary expenseMiss. Code Ann. § 33-15-203(a)
Serious needMiss. Code Ann. § 33-15-203(b)
State of emergencyMiss. Code Ann. §§ 33-15-5(f), 43-41-3(n), 33-
State of war emergencyMiss. Code Ann. § 33-15-5(e)
Technological emergencyMiss. Code Ann. § 33-15-5(k)
Temporary housingMiss. Code Ann. § 33-15-203 (r)
Trust fundMiss. Code Ann. § 33-15-305(i)
For Further Research
The citations noted above and other elements of the state code for Mississippi
may be searched at [http://184.108.40.206/mississippi/lpext.dll?f=templates&fn=fs-