Colorado Disaster Emergency Act

Colorado Disaster Emergency Act

Colorado DHSEM logoThe Colorado Disaster Emergency Act, CRS 24-33.5-701, describes emergency conditions, government authority, and procedures for managing local and state disasters and emergencies.

The purpose is public safety, to plan, prepare, prevent and cooperate to protect people and communities from damage, injury and loss of life and property, and to respond, restore and recover from disasters.

It also provides for an emergency management system. It does not limit the authority of the governor to declare martial law or to exercise other powers under the constitution, statutes or common law.

Definition of Disaster

CRS 24-33.5-703 defines a disaster as the occurrence or imminent threat of widespread or severe damage, injury, or loss of life or property resulting from any natural cause or cause of human origin, including but not limited to fire, flood, earthquake, wind, storm, wave action, hazardous substance incident, oil spill or other water contamination requiring emergency action to avert danger or damage, volcanic activity, epidemic, air pollution, blight, drought, infestation, explosion, civil disturbance, hostile military or paramilitary action, or a condition of riot, insurrection, or invasion existing in the state or in any county, city, town, or district in the state.

Executive Orders

The governor may issue executive orders, proclamations, and regulations and amend or rescind them. Executive orders, proclamations, and regulations have the force and effect of law.

Declaration of Disaster

flood disaster familyA disaster emergency shall be declared by executive order or proclamation of the governor if the governor finds a disaster has occurred or that this occurrence or the threat thereof is imminent.

The state of disaster emergency shall continue until the governor finds that the threat of danger has passed or that the disaster has been dealt with to the extent that emergency conditions no longer exist.

The governor terminates the state of disaster emergency by executive order or proclamation, but no state of disaster emergency may continue for longer than thirty days unless renewed by the governor. The general assembly, by joint resolution, may terminate a state of disaster emergency at any time.

A state of disaster emergency shall activate the disaster response and recovery aspects of the state, local, and interjurisdictional disaster emergency plans, and authorize the deployment and use of any forces to which the plans apply.  The governor is the commander-in-chief of the organized and unorganized militia and of all other forces available for emergency duty.

The governor may suspend the provisions of any regulatory statute for the conduct of state business or the orders, rules, or regulations of any state agency if strict compliance would prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the emergency.

The governor may commandeer or utilize any private property if the governor finds this necessary to cope with the disaster emergency. Compensation for use or destruction shall be calculated in the same manner as compensation due for the taking of property pursuant to eminent domain procedures.

The governor may direct and compel the evacuation of all or part of the population from any stricken or threatened area within the state if the governor deems this action necessary for the preservation of life or other disaster mitigation, response, or recovery.

The governor may suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of alcoholic beverages, firearms, explosives, or combustibles.

Emergency Epidemic

During an emergency epidemic, the governor shall be advised by an expert emergency epidemic response committee and shall act regarding reasonable and appropriate measures to reduce or prevent the spread of the disease, agent, or toxin and to protect the public health.

This includes issuing orders to physicians and hospitals, taking supplies of medicines and vaccines, placing persons or property in quarantine, seizing and destroying contaminated property, and safely disposing of corpses and infectious waste.

Colorado Office of Emergency Management

The Colorado Office of Emergency Management is part of the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) in the Department of Public Safety (DPS). The office of emergency management shall prepare, maintain, and keep current a state disaster plan that complies with all applicable federal and state regulations.

Disaster Emergency Fund

The act establishes a disaster emergency fund, but the first recourse is to use funds regularly appropriated to state and local agencies. If the money available in the fund is insufficient, the governor may transfer and expend money appropriated for other purposes.

Local Disaster Agencies

Each political subdivision is within the jurisdiction of and served by the office of emergency management and by a local or interjurisdictional agency responsible for disaster preparedness and coordination of the response.

Each local and interjurisdictional disaster agency shall prepare and keep current a local or interjurisdictional disaster emergency plan for its area. The sheriff of each county shall be the official responsible for the coordination of all search and rescue operations within the sheriff’s jurisdiction.

Local Disaster Emergencies

A local disaster may be declared only by the principal executive officer of a political subdivision. It shall not be continued or renewed for a period in excess of seven days except by or with the consent of the governing board of the political subdivision. A declaration of a local disaster emergency activates the local and interjurisdictional disaster emergency plans and authorizes the furnishing of aid and assistance under such plans.

Interoperable Public Safety Radio Systems

Public safety agencies, including law enforcement, fire protection, emergency medical, or emergency response services, shall use interoperable communications, able to communicate on-demand and in real-time by voice or data using compatible radio communication systems or other technology.

Governor Commander-in-Chief of Militia

Article IV, Section 5 of the Colorado Constitution states: The governor shall be commander-in-chief of the military forces of the state, except when they shall be called into actual service of the United States. He shall have the power to call out the militia to execute the laws, suppress insurrection or repel invasion.

Citizen Emergency Preparation

Citizen preparedness information is shared in blog posts on the Office of Preparedness’ READYColorado site in an effort to encourage individuals to be ready for whatever emergency strikes in their community.

Colorado Daily Status Report

daily status report

Colorado DHSEM releases a Colorado Daily Status Report on regular business days and each day the State Emergency Operations Center is activated.

Emergency Notification System

Colorado residents may register for the emergency notification system for their county to receive alerts of potential safety hazards by phone, text or email at local info sources.

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