Federal disaster assistance is available through FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) Grant Program to help Louisiana communities in 11 parishes recover from the Jan. 8-17 severe storms and flooding.
Under the program, FEMA is providing supplemental financial assistance to the state, its agencies, local governments, and certain private nonprofit organizations, including electric cooperatives, for their eligible response and recovery expenses.
Although funds are awarded to government entities and nonprofits, the PA program is intended to benefit everyone — neighborhoods, cities, parishes and the states. PA dollars help clean up communities affected by disaster-related debris, repair the roads and bridges people use every day getting to work and school, put utilities and water systems back in order, repair hospitals and emergency services, rebuild schools and universities and restore playground equipment in public parks.
Following are some key facts, dates and deadlines for applicants seeking federal assistance as a result of Louisiana’s January storms and flooding:
- President Obama issued a major disaster declaration on Feb. 22, making Public Assistance available to applicants in Acadia, Catahoula, Concordia, East Carroll, Evangeline, Franklin, Jefferson Davis, Livingston, Madison, St. Landry, and Vermilion parishes.
- PA applicants must file Requests for Public Assistance (RPAs) within 30 days of a Public Assistance disaster declaration.
- Although those affected by the Jan. 8-17 storms and tornadoes have until March 25 to submit RPAs, state/FEMA program specialists urge applicants to start the process now.
- The state of Louisiana, with FEMA support, held Applicant Briefings the week of March 5 throughout the disaster-affected areas to provide a general overview of the PA program and answer questions.
- FEMA/state PA program specialists are now meeting individually with applicants in Kick-Off Meetings to focus on their eligibility and requirements for documenting expenses for reimbursement.
- FEMA Public Assistance dollars come to Louisiana communities through a cost-sharing partnership among the state, the applicants and the federal government. FEMA reimburses applicants for 75 percent of their eligible costs, and the state and/or applicant cover the remaining 25 percent.
- FEMA obligates federal PA funds directly to the state, which disburses the money to the local jurisdictions and organizations that incurred costs.
- Emergency Work:
- Two types of work are eligible for reimbursement under the PA program:
- Removal and disposal of eligible disaster-related debris
- Emergency measures taken to protect lives and property ahead of and in the immediate aftermath of the storms and flooding.
- Permanent Repairs to:
- Roads and bridges
- Water control facilities
- Public buildings and equipment
- Public utilities
- Parks, recreational and other facilities
- To be eligible for FEMA reimbursement funding, applicants must complete their projects within the established time frame (unless extenuating circumstances exist).
- Emergency work must be completed within six months of the presidential disaster declaration.
- Permanent repair work must be completed within 18 months of the declaration.
- Types of entities that may be eligible for Public Assistance include:
- State governments and state agencies
- Local governments (towns, cities, counties) and special districts
- Federally recognized tribes
- Certain private nonprofit organizations providing services, such as:
- Critical services:
- Hospitals and other medical treatment
- Fire, police and other emergency services
- Power, water and sewer systems
- Educational institutions
- Libraries, museums and zoos
- Essential services**:
- Community centers
- Homeless shelters and rehabilitation facilities
- Senior citizen centers and day-care centers
**Private nonprofits that provide essential services are eligible for Public Assistance for emergency work. For permanent repairs, they must apply to the U.S. Small Business Administration for a low-interest disaster loan before applying to FEMA.