Recovery 101: The California Disaster Assistance Act 


After a disaster strikes, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) Recovery Directorate is responsible for managing recovery among state and local partners and providing assistance to Californians and their communities. The California Disaster Assistance Act (CDAA) is an important tool Cal OES uses to help California’s communities get back on their feet after severe storms, wildfires, earthquakes and everything in between.  

What is CDAA?  

During and after a disaster, local governments often incur costs associated with emergency response activities and the repair, restoration or replacement of damaged property. CDAA, a form of public assistance, allows Cal OES to provide reimbursement for up to 75% of these costs to local governments.  

How is CDAA triggered? 

After a disaster occurs, there will be Initial Damage Estimates (IDE) and a state assessment of the estimate. 

When a local government makes an emergency proclamation, or the Governor declares a state of emergency, funding for repair, restoration or replacement of public property that was damaged or destroyed is made available.   

Click here to learn more about how the CDAA process works.  

Who can receive CDAA funds?  

There are several public entities that can receive CDAA funds. These include cities, counties, special districts, school districts, community colleges and certain nonprofit organizations.  

What costs can CDAA funds be used to reimburse?  

CDAA funds can reimburse up to 75% of costs associated with:  

  • Overtime and wage costs for emergency response personnel  
  • Travel costs 
  • Supplies, materials and equipment 
  • Repair, permanent restoration and replacement costs for public facilities 
  • Basic engineering services needed for construction projects 
  • Administrative or indirect (but related) costs  
  • Work performed under interagency assistance agreements (like mutual aid), for which an applicant is legally obligated to pay 
  • Local cost share for federal public assistance programs  

How have eligible organizations used CDAA funds in their communities?  

CDAA funds have been used in various ways depending on what a type of disaster occurred and what a community’s specific needs are as they navigate the recovery process.  

For example, after a wildfire or flooding, local governments have requested CDAA funds to help reimburse the costs of debris removal, rebuilding roads and bridges and property clean-up.   

As needed, local governments have also used CDAA funds to reimburse the costs of certain emergency activities, such as overtime pay for first responders.  

Some examples of CDAA funds in action include:  

  • Nearly $11.7 million to aid Mariposa County in hazardous debris removal following the Oak Fire 
  • More than $583,000 to help Placer County recover from December 2021 winter storms 
  • $5 million to repair damage sustained by the Dixie Fire in Plumas County 

Additional Resources 

If you’d like to learn more about the CDAA process, check out these resources: 

If you are eligible to apply for CDAA funds on behalf of your organization, you can find forms and reference materials on the Cal OES Recovery Directorate webpage.