New York Emergency Management and Homeland Security Authorities Summarized.
CRS Report for Congress
New York Emergency Management and Homeland
Security Authorities Summarized
March 23, 2004
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
New York Emergency Management and Homeland
Security Authorities Summarized
New York state statutes provide that local government and emergency
organizations serve as the “first line of defense in times of disaster” and that the state
provides support as needed. The governor’s powers include declaring a disaster,
coordinating the response of state agencies after a disaster, issuing a declaration of
significant economic distress for a municipality after a disaster, and allowing it to
apply for state funding. The state disaster preparedness commission is responsible
for developing a state disaster preparedness plan. Should a natural disaster
significantly affect voter turnout, elections can be rescheduled to allow all voters an
opportunity to participate.
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. This report
will be updated as developments warrant.
Entities with Key Responsibilities.................................1
Types of Assistance............................................3
Continuity of Government Operations..............................5
For Further Research...........................................7
List of Tables
Table 1. Key Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Terms Defined in New York Statutes, with Citations..................7
New York Emergency Management and
Homeland Security Authorities Summarized
Entities with Key Responsibilities
Governor: Upon declaration of a state disaster emergency, the governor may
direct any state agency to take specified actions and provide assistance, and may, by
executive order, temporarily suspend statutes if compliance would delay necessary
action. Also, the governor is authorized to use civil defense forces in disaster
situations (N.Y. Exec. Con. Laws Art.2-B §§28, 29, 29-a, 29-b).
State Fire Administrator: The administrator must establish a hazardous
materials emergency response training program that includes hands-on training,
hazard assessment, use of emergency equipment, and chemical properties of
materials. In addition, the administrator must provide an annual report on the
program to the following officials: governor, speaker of the assembly, senate
president, and transportation committee chairs of both chambers (N.Y. Executive
Con. Laws Art. 6-C §156-a).
Disaster Preparedness Commission: The heads of state agencies and three
gubernatorial appointees serve on the commission, the adjutant general is secretary,
and the state emergency management office provides staff support. The
commission’s mandates include studying manmade and natural disaster prevention
and response and recovery; preparing a plan for the governor’s approval; directing
state disaster operations and coordinating with local efforts after a declaration;
creating, if necessary, a temporary organization in a disaster area to ensure
coordination; and submitting an annual report to the governor and legislature. The
commission must review the state disaster preparedness plan annually; the plan must
address specified disaster prevention, response, and recovery components (N.Y.
Exec. Con. Laws Art. 2-B §§ 21-22).
Adjutant general: The adjutant general serves as the commander of the state
national guard and naval militia (N.Y. Exec. Con. Laws Art. 9 §190), controls the
division of military affairs, and acts as state director of civil defense (N.Y. Military
Con. Laws Art. 1 §11). The general has authority to issue rules pertaining to the
release of money from the state contingency fund to help municipalities rebuild
infrastructure after a disaster (N.Y. Exec. Con. Laws Art. 2-B §29-e (4.)
See “Entities with Key Responsibilities,” Disaster Preparedness Commission.
The governor, at his or her discretion, may direct the state civil defense
commission to conduct a civil defense drill. Upon the occurrence or threat of a
disaster, county chief executives may direct the local civil defense director to hold
a drill in the disaster area. Civil defense forces are regarded as a reserve disaster
force to be used when the county executive determines that local emergency forces
cannot adequately respond to a disaster (N.Y. Exec. Con. Laws Art. 2-B §29-b).
The disaster preparedness commission is authorized to monitor off-site releases
of radiological material. Owners of nuclear generating facilities must pay an annual
fee to support emergency preparedness and response activities, to a maximum of
$550,000. The commission may use the fees to buy, maintain and operate equipment
to monitor releases, purchase, store and distribute drugs that would protect public
health and safety, provide training, and pay required matching costs (N.Y. Exec. Con.
Laws Art. Art. 2-B §29-c).
Local governments are authorized to prepare disaster preparedness plans, with
assistance provided by the Disaster Preparedness Commission, to prevent disasters,
coordinate resources, and provide for recovery and redevelopment. The plans, and
the process used to develop the plans, must meet specified requirements (N.Y. Exec.
Con. Laws Art. 2-B §23).
The statute recommends that the chief executive of each county with a local
disaster preparedness plan maintain a voluntary registry, updated annually, of
disabled persons who would need assistance during evacuation and sheltering. Any
county chief executive who has compiled such a registry must make it available to
state, local, federal agencies to provide services. Information collected for the
registry is confidential (N.Y. Exec. Con. Laws Art. 2-B §23-a).
The governing body of each county is authorized to establish a hazardous
materials emergency response team and to establish a regional emergency response
team (N.Y. Gen. Municipal Con Laws Art. 10 §209-y).
If the governor finds that a disaster has occurred or is imminent, and that local
governments are unable to respond adequately, he must declare a disaster emergency
by executive order. A declaration associated with a radiological accident must be
accompanied by adequate notice and implementation of the radiological preparedness
plan. A declaration remains in effect for a maximum of six months and the governor
may issue an extension effective for not more than six months. After a declaration,
the governor may request federal assistance and make money available from the
government emergency fund or other funds to pay the state share of federal grants to
meet disaster related expenses (N.Y. Exec. Con. Laws Art. 2-B §28).
The governor, pursuant to specified requirements, and through an executive
order, may temporarily suspend statutes during a state disaster emergency for a
maximum period of 30 days, with renewals authorized. The legislature may
terminate such an executive order by concurrent resolution (N.Y. Exec. Con. Laws
Art. 2-B §29-a).
A local chief executive may proclaim that a local state of emergency exists for
a maximum period of 5 days (with renewals authorized), and provide local
emergency orders to protect people and property and respond to the emergency.
Actions that might be taken include: establishing curfews, prohibiting traffic,
limiting ingress and egress, closing amusement and assembly places, suspending the
sale of alcohol, firearms, and explosives, and establishing emergency shelters. After
requesting that the governor declare a state emergency, a local chief executive may
suspend local laws and ordinances that prevent or hinder disaster response or
recovery. Such suspensions may extend for a maximum period of five days, with
renewals authorized. The local chief executive may request that the governor remove
inmates from county institutions, and may request assistance from the governor if
disaster is beyond local capacity. The legislature may terminate emergency orders
at any time by concurrent resolution (N.Y. Exec. Con. Laws Art. 2-B §24).
The sheriff of any county may declare a “state of special emergency” when the
peace of the public is threatened, after advising the governor (N.Y. Gen. Municipal
Con. Laws Art. 10 §209-f 2.).
Types of Assistance
Upon the threat or occurrence of a disaster, the chief executive of a local
government is to use any and all facilities, equipment, supplies, and staff in the
political subdivision to address the disaster. An executive can use real or personal
property from another political subdivision only for purposes of emergency relief,
reconstruction, and rehabilitation resulting from a disaster. Political subdivisions are
not liable in exercising this authority (N.Y. Exec. Con. Laws Art. 2-B §25).
The governor may declare that a municipality has suffered significant economic
distress from loss of assessed value, damage to municipal buildings, cleanup costs,
business losses, unemployment or federal declaration of disaster and assistance
eligibility. Pursuant to statutory restrictions and specifications, such a municipality
may seek state reimbursement from the state contingency reserve fund for
extraordinary and unanticipated costs to reconstruct or repair public buildings and
facilities and infrastructure. The municipality must agree to have a local disaster
preparedness plan and amend the plan to mitigate future disasters in order to receive
funds. The state emergency management office is authorized to prioritize claims or
give pro rata share of the funds if the amount is limited (N.Y. Exec. Con. Laws Art.
The Emergency Management Assistance Compact is codified (N.Y. Executive
Con. Laws Art. 2-B §29-g).
The Northeastern Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact is codified (N.Y.
Env. Cons. Con. Laws Art. 9 §9-1123).
The governor is authorized to mobilize police forces for emergencies, power and
immunity to render services in any jurisdiction in the state (N.Y. Gen. Municipal Art.
The governor, with the prior consent of Congress, is authorized to enter into
compacts with other states and with Canada for military aid in the event of hostile
action, disasters, or imminent danger (N.Y. Military Con. Laws Art. 1 §22a).
A local government chief executive may request the use of real or personal
property from another unit of local government, as well as the assistance of civil
defense and disaster preparedness staff if they already have been activated (N.Y.
Exec. Con. Laws Art. 2-B §25 (3-6)).
A county chief executive may coordinate requests for disaster assistance made
by chief executives of political subdivisions within the county (N.Y. Exec. Con.
Laws Art. 2-B §26).
The statute calls for establishment of a mutual aid plan for water service in the
event of a water supply emergency (N.Y. Gen. Municipal Con. Laws Art. 6 §120-u).
The state fire administrator must prepare a fire mobilization and mutual aid plan
(N.Y. Gen. Municipal Con. Laws Art. 10 §209-e).
County officials are authorized to fund the development and maintenance of
mutual aid plans for fires and other emergencies (N.Y. Gen. Municipal Con. Laws
Art. 10 §209-j).
See “Types of Assistance.”
The statute established an emergency services revolving loan account that is
administered by the secretary of state and authorized to make loans to purchase
firefighting equipment, ambulances, protective equipment, communications
equipment, within specified financial limits (N.Y. State Fin. Con. Laws Art. 6
Dam owners are required to operate and maintain dams in a safe condition. The
commissioner of environmental conservation is authorized to promulgate regulations
to require owners to prepare a safety program to safeguard life, property and natural
resources. At its discretion, the Department of Public Safety is to inspect dams and
direct owners to conduct studies, investigations and analysis to evaluate safety and
to remove or repair structures (N.Y. Env. Cons. Con. Laws Art. 15 §15-0507).
The statute requires local governments to comply with flood insurance program
requirements and to maintain participation in the program. The statute provides
sanctions for local governments failing to participate. The state provides technical
assistance to communities, and state agencies are responsible for minimizing flood
hazards related to state owned or financed buildings, roads, and facilities. The statute
requires that actions be taken to reduce flood hazards in the siting, planning,
construction and maintenance of state facilities. The commissioner of environmental
conservation must assist state agencies in evaluating flood hazards and protection
measures. The Department of Environmental Conservation acts as the state
coordinating agency for national flood insurance program (N.Y. Env. Cons. Con.
Laws Art. 36 §36-0101 et seq.).
In general, following a state declaration, affected localities must prepare a local
recovery and redevelopment plan to be submitted to the disaster preparedness
commission within 45 days of the declaration. Within 60 days, the commission must
report on the status of the plan to the governor and legislature. The commission is
directed to provide technical assistance to local governments, and comment on the
plan if requested. The plan must consider the replacement, reconstruction,
relocation, and removal of damaged or destroyed facilities, new zoning regulations,
building and sanitation codes, and plans for economic recovery and community
development and mitigation. The plan must be presented at a public hearing (N.Y.
Exec. Con. Laws Art. 2-B §28-a).
Continuity of Government Operations
In the event of disaster and emergency conditions a county, city, town, and
village may provide for the continuity of government operations when officers are
unable to perform duties or are absent from political subdivision. Local laws or
resolutions must provide a list or order of succession (N.Y. Exec. Con. Law Art. 2-B
If the governor’s office becomes vacant due to an attack or natural disaster and
the lieutenant governor, temporary president of the senate and speaker of the
assembly are unable to perform duties, then specified state officers are designated to
fill the position. The acting governor must fill the vacancy until the next election
(N.Y. Unconsol. Con. Laws §§ 9105, 9106).
A building with off-street parking that provides underground shelter for
emergencies is exempt from taxation for a maximum period of 25 years (N.Y. Real
Property Tax Con. Laws Art. 4 §478).
Any real property with a fallout shelter is exempt from taxation for shelter space
(N.Y. Real Property Tax Con. Laws Art. 4 §479).
The board of education of every school district must adopt or amend
comprehensive district-wide and building level school safety plans that address crisis
intervention, emergency response, and management issues. Emergency response
plans must address shelter and evacuation concerns and designation of response
teams. The commissioner of education must report annually to the governor and the
legislature concerning implementation of, and compliance with, this requirement
(N.Y. Education Con. Laws Art. 55 §2801-a).
The statute provides immunity for services provided by local fire departments
outside their home jurisdictions (N.Y. Gen. Municipal Con. Laws Art. 10 §209).
The statute provides for workers’ compensation for civil defense volunteers
(N.Y. Workers’ Comp. Con. Laws Art. 10 §300 et seq.)
The statute prohibits the sale of any motor vehicle with mechanical or electrical
system damage resulting from natural disaster that has rendered the vehicle
inoperable without giving notice in writing to the buyer (N.Y. Gen. Business Con.
Laws Art. 26 §396-k*).
State employees who are American Red Cross volunteers may be granted leave
with pay for a maximum period of 20 days per year to participate in disaster relief
without a loss of seniority (N.Y. Civil Service Con. Laws Art. 5 §82-b). Similar
authority is extended to employees of municipal corporations and school districts
(N.Y. Gen. Municipal Con. Laws Art. 5 §92-c) and to public authorities employees
(N.Y. Gen. Public Authorities Con. Laws Art. 9 §2850-a).
New York Fire Department members who are American Red Cross volunteers
may be granted leave with pay for a maximum period of 100 days per year to
participate in disaster relief without a loss of seniority (N.Y. Gen. Municipal Con.
Laws Art. 10 §209-aa).
If the state or any county board of elections determines that less than 25% of
registered voters participated in a general election because of a fire, earthquake,
tornado, power failure, act of sabotage, enemy attack or other disaster (and if the state
board of elections approves the county board’s determination), it must notify the said
county board of elections that an additional day of election must be held. The statute
does not apply to absentee or military ballots unless they were cast by the original
due date (N.Y. Elections Con. Laws Art. 3 §3-108).
Table 1. Key Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Terms Defined in New York Statutes, with Citations
Area of special flood hazardN.Y. Env. Cons. Con. Laws §36-0103(1)
CommissionN.Y. Exec. Con. Laws §20(2)(d)
DisasterN.Y. Exec. Con. Laws §20(2)(a)
EmergencyN.Y. Gen’l Municipal Con. Laws §120-u(e)
Emergency services organizationN.Y. Exec. Con. Laws §20(2)(e)
FundN.Y. Exec. Con. Laws §29-e(1)(d)
National flood insuranceN.Y. Env. Cons. Con. Laws §36-0103 (3)
State disaster emergencyN.Y. Exec. Con. Laws §20 (2) (b)
State emergency managementN.Y. Exec. Con. Laws §29-e (1) (e)
For Further Research
The citations noted above and other elements of the state code for New York
may be searched at: [http://www.senate.state.ny.us/].