On April 5, President Obama announced a major disaster declaration making 10 Wisconsin counties eligible to apply for federal Public (Infrastructure) Assistance. Those counties are Dane, Dodge, Grant, Iowa, Kenosha, Lafayette, Milwaukee, Racine, Walworth and Washington.
This frees up federal funds to help State, county and local governments, as well as certain private nonprofit organizations, recover from the severe winter storm and snowstorm that hit these areas Jan. 31 through Feb. 3, 2011. Storm cleanup and emergency response work severely strained many county and local government coffers leaving some without funds to repair damaged facilities. Others were left without adequate budgets to respond to future disasters.
People from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) are working side-by-side to meet this disaster head on.
As Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) for this disaster, I am committed to working with our partners here to respond. More than 75 FEMA personnel (Disaster Reservists) are now deployed or identified to support our mission.
As a team, we have taken great strides in getting disaster assistance information out to those who were affected. WEM officials hosted 10 Applicants’ Briefings to explain the PA process to approximately 400 officials and to assist them in filling out necessary forms..
Once State, county and local government agencies and certain private nonprofit organizations submit their Requests for Public Assistance (RPAs) to WEM officials announcing their intent to apply for federal disaster assistance, we work directly with the applicants to write up project worksheets. Already approximately 250 government agencies and nonprofit groups have submitted their intent to apply for federal assistance. More RPAs are expected before the May 5 deadline.
We want to get the funds into the hands of those eligible for reimbursement as quickly as possible and help those applicants get back to normal operations.
I want to thank members of the Wisconsin Congressional delegation for their role in this important process. They are a vital conduit in sharing critical information from their constituents back to FEMA and the State.
We’re off to a good start, but a lot of work remains to be done.
In short, I take my responsibilities as FCO very seriously, and I assure you, FEMA will remain here as long as needed to support the State during this recovery process.