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This field guide serves as a quick reference tool for State/Federal Preliminary Damage Assessment Team members.

For updated guidance, please visit and select EM Recovery Pocket Guide Series Updates.


The Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) Pocket Guide serves as a quick reference tool for FEMA, state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) government partners conducting PDAs to determine the magnitude of damage and impact of disasters. For more detailed information on PDAs, refer to the FEMA Preliminary Damage Assessment Guide.

What are Preliminary Damage Assessments?

The PDA process is a mechanism used to determine the impact and magnitude of damage and the resulting unmet needs of individuals, businesses, the public sector, and the community. Information collected is used by the state as a basis for the governor's request and by FEMA to document the recommendation made to the President in response to the governor's request.

With the support of the state, tribe, or territory, local governments first conduct initial damage assessments (IDA) to determine if they require federal support. Once SLTT governments determine their capability to respond to or recover from the event is exceeded, the state, tribe, or territory requests a joint PDA with FEMA.