Disaster Assistance

State Disaster Assistance Program 

Founded in 1972, AIA’s Disaster Assistance Program equips architects with the knowledge and skills to mitigate, prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. Aligning with emergency management practices, AIA’s Disaster Assistance Program is supported on the local, state, and national level and works with members to engage with and support the larger disaster-response community.
Typically, AIA State Disaster Assistance Program administration is led by the AIA state chapter, though in some cases a strong local chapter will take the lead. These resources are relevant to all component leaders as they build and grow their State Disaster Assistance Programs.

If your State Disaster Assistance Program is just getting started ... 

    • Roles and Responsibilities in AIA State and Local Disaster Assistance Program: An in-depth resource that outlines typical roles and responsibilities on the national, state, and local level in the AIA State Disaster Assistance Program. 
    • Disaster Assistance Quick Guide: A quick guide resource that draws from the Disaster Assistance Handbook to communicate the phases of emergency management that align with the timeline of a typical disaster event. Within each phase, there are several actions to be taken in preparing for, responding to, recovering from, and mitigating disaster events. 
    • Establishing an AIA State Disaster Assistance Program: The AIA State Disaster Program establishes a network of architects and ensures they are prepared to assist communities pre- and post-disaster in volunteer and leadership roles. This document is a first step to guide members and components as they establish a new disaster assistance program. 
    • Safety Assessment Program (SAP) training: The AIA SAP training provides architects, engineers, and certified building officials with the knowledge and protocol to evaluate homes, buildings, and infrastructure in responding post-disaster. Adapted from the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) Safety Assessment Program (SAP), this seven-hour training accredits participants with the nationally recognized certification that is often required for volunteer building safety evaluators nationwide. You can find resources on how to host an SAP here. Email resilience@aia.org with any questions or feedback you may have. 
    • SAP certified volunteer roster template: a ready-to-use template to keep track of all your SAP trained volunteers. 


If you need support when disaster strikes... 

    • AIA Disaster Assistance Handbook: Chapter 4 details the disaster response phase and associated procedures. Pages 90-94 offer a “Day in the life of a deployed post- disaster building safety evaluator” example. 
    • AIA Disaster Updates: A webpage periodically updated to reflect updates regarding AIA’s engagement in disaster areas as well as resources and volunteer opportunities. AIA National can support components by using this site to amplify local or state component messaging as well as manage inquires by posting FAQs. 
    • Safety Assessment Volunteer log template: A template to track the impact of volunteers when performing post-disaster building safety evaluations, which is valuable to the AHJ and can be used as a critical metric of architectural value. Need to host an emergency SAP training post-disaster? Email resilience@aia.org.  

If you want to advocate for Good Samaritan legislation ... 

    • Good Samaritan State Statute Compendium: This resource provides an overview of and discusses the advantages of Good Samaritan legislation that grants crucial liability protection to architects providing disaster assistance. This compendium further details each state’s Good Samaritan protections for architects and encompasses AIA model legislation for those interested in understanding and advocating for such legislation.  
    • Check out sample material on how to discuss and support Good Samaritan legislation.  
      • Disaster Assistance Handbook: Page 146 includes a case study of AIA NH’s successful Good Samaritan advocacy efforts. 
      • Good Sam PPT Sample: An example of a PowerPoint presentation utilized by AIA NH to gain support for Good Samaritan Law. 
      • Good Sam Talking Points Sample: An example of talking points used by AIA NH to build support for Good Samaritan Law. 
      • Good Sam Outreach Sample: An example of types of stakeholders AIA NH engaged with to successful advocate and pass their Good Samaritan law. 


If you want to build partnerships for disaster assistance...  

    • Why engage an architect in disaster assistance: This resource explores the value of architects in disaster assistance drawing upon their support through public duty, systems design, multi-stakeholder leadership. Components can refer to this document when developing talking points on the value of architect engagement.  
    • How to engage an architect in disaster assistance: A resource that outlines architect disaster assistance activities broken down into volunteer activities and professional services between disaster preparedness and disaster response. Components can utilize this brief document as a flyer or leave behind when meeting with government officials or other potential partners. 
    • State Disaster Assistance: Developing an MOU: A document that offers guidance for creating a Disaster Assistance Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), including steps for prepping, approaching, and composing along with highlighting sample disaster assistance MOUs  
    • Architects Respond video: A brief video of a Hurricane Harvey response case study that showcases the value architects bring post-disaster. 
    • AIA Disaster Assistance External PPT Presentation template: a customizable PPT pre-loaded with talking points, case studies, and action items for meetings with potential collaborators. 
    • Architects formally acknowledged in the FEMA National Incident Management System: this advisory communicates a new federal policy that enables architects to be called up through EMAC. States that are unclear on architects’ role post-disaster may be more familiar with EMAC and NIMS resource types.  


Need help? 
These resources and more are available online at https://www.aia.org/resources/69766-disaster-assistance-program. If you have any questions or comments, please email resilience@aia.org.  

Kathleen Lane, AIA
Managing Director, Sustainability & Resilience

Melissa Wackerle
Sr. Director, Resilience and Climate Adaptation

Paola Capo
Manager, Disaster and Community Assistance