State Assessment and Response Team (START)

Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA)

Following an emergency or disaster, the Governor requests PDAs as the first step to collecting information in the declaration process. The START is responsible for surveying damages in designated areas, and they do this by going city-by-city, street-by-street, door-to-door, until impacted areas identified by state, tribal, and local officials have been thoroughly assessed.

The team or teams are not just looking at the numbers of damaged or destroyed homes but they’re also obtaining information on the impact to the community as a whole. In larger emergencies or disasters or when affected areas are inaccessible, PDAs may be conducted by car or aircraft.

The team members talk to as many residents as possible to ensure detailed assessments are made. The team(s) conduct their assessments to fully understand how the disaster has and will impact you and your family. Even when the damage may not seem apparent, the team is looking for all types and signs of damage, such as water lines from flooding, damaged roof and windows, and damage to doors and windows.

Many of the questions the teams may ask are aimed to garner a clear understanding of the impacts, including: whether you have insurance; whether your utilities are out; whether you have a place to stay; was your job affected; did your children need to change schools; was your car damaged; and do you have special medical needs.

A START may not need to talk to every individual. If damages have already been reported to local or state officials, those reports will be shared with the team(s) and cross-referenced with the street report, and then all of the information will be considered for the assessments.

Along with assessing the damages that affected individuals within a community, START will also assess the impact of the incident on public infrastructure. This includes the cost of emergency measures, such as debris removal, and repair or restoration of public facilities such as roads and buildings.

The goal is to complete the assessments efficiently and thoroughly to ensure the teams have captured the total impact to the communities and area of the state affected by the disaster.

Once the information is compiled by DEM, it is provided to the Governor to determine if he will request federal assistance. If the Governor believes the damages “are beyond state and local capabilities,” he will submit the written request to the President and specify the type of assistance needed and which counties are affected.

It is important to remember that the START do not determine whether a major disaster declaration will be issued.

The information compiled within a final damage assessment report by DEM is subsequently used for the following purposes:

  • The PDA report is a requirement for inclusion with a local application for assistance from the State Disaster Relief Account pursuant to the provisions of Nevada Revised Statute, Chapter 353.2755(2)(e). 
  • In the event that the State seeks a Presidential Disaster Declaration, the information contained within the PDA report is utilized as the justification for the request. 
  • The PDA report can also be utilized for planning and coordination in relation to the deployment of resources.

Federal agencies may also accompany the teams to provide technical and resource support.