Glossary of Terms
Occasionally an applicant may determine that the public welfare would not be best served by restoring a damaged facility or its function to the pre-disaster design. This usually occurs when the service provided by the facility is no longer needed, although the facility was still in use at the time of the disaster. Under these circumstances, the applicant may apply to FEMA to use the eligible funds for an Alternate Project. The alternate project option may be proposed for permanent restoration projects located within the declared disaster area. All requests for Alternate Projects must be made within 12 months of the kickoff meeting and approved by FEMA prior to construction. However, due to the degree of disaster-related damage within NOMA, many deadlines have been extended. Alternate projects must be approved by FEMA prior to construction to ensure completion of the appropriate environmental or historical review.
Advisory Base Flood Elevation (ABFE)
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Rita, FEMA responded to state and local officials' requests for updated flood hazard information to help them make smart rebuilding decisions. FEMA issued ABFEs for areas of Louisiana and Mississippi where the effects of the storm had significantly altered the floodplain, or demonstrated that current Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) were outdated.
In the event of an emergency where it is necessary to take an action with significant environmental impacts without following the Environmental Impact Statement process, a federal agency may consult with the Council on Environmental Quality to develop alternative arrangements that comply with the National Environmental Policy Act.
A state agency, local government, or eligible private nonprofit organization that submits a Public Assistance request to FEMA for disaster assistance.
Catastrophic Incident of National Significance
Presidentially declared disasters and emergencies under the Stafford Act are considered Incidents of National Significance. A catastrophic incident of national significance is the result of an unusually severe disaster with extensive effects on national welfare.
Categories of Public Assistance Projects
To facilitate the processing of Public Assistance Program grants, FEMA has divided disaster-related work into seven categories, which are in turn designated as emergency or permanent work. Categories A and B are emergency work, and Categories C through G are permanent work.
Council on Environmental Quality
The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) coordinates federal environmental efforts and works closely with agencies and other White House offices in the development of environmental policies and initiatives. The CEQ's Chair serves as the principal environmental policy adviser to the President. The CEQ oversees federal agency implementation of the environmental impact assessment process and acts as a referee when agencies disagree over the adequacy of such assessments.
Critical Physical Infrastructure
The National Environmental Policy Act Alternative Arrangements for FEMA Public Assistance Program grants in NOMA address the following types of critical physical infrastructure projects that may qualify for FEMA grant funding:
- Hospitals and health care facilities
- Utilities and wastewater treatment plants
- Permanent police and fire stations
- Government and court administration buildings
- Detention centers (jailhouses)
- Permanent schools
Work that must be done immediately to save lives and protect improved property, public health and safety, or to avert or lessen the threat of a major disaster. Emergency work frequently includes clearance and removal of debris and temporary restoration of essential public facilities and services (Public Assistance Program Category A, Debris Removal, and Category B, Emergency Protective Measures).
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
An EIS is required of federal agencies by the National Environmental Policy Act for major projects significantly affecting the environment. The EIS documentation describes the positive and negative effects of the undertaking, cites alternative actions, and is intended to be a tool for decision making.
Executive Order 12898, Environmental Justice, requires that federal agencies identify and address, as appropriate, “disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations.” FEMA is required to consider the effects of its actions in the context of this executive order.
Geospatial Information System (GIS)
A geospatial information system, or geographic information system, is a system for creating and managing spatial data and associated attributes. GIS is a computer system capable of integrating, storing, editing, analyzing, and displaying geographically referenced information. It is a "smart map" tool that allows users to create interactive queries (user-created searches), analyze the spatial information, and edit data.
New Orleans Metropolitan Area (NOMA)
New Orleans Metropolitan Area is defined as including seven parishes and associated cities: Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, and St. Tammany Parishes.
Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP)
The Stafford Act, Section 404, provides funding for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. HMGP funding is available after disasters, but is not under the jurisdiction of the Public Assistance Grant Program. The purpose of HMGP is to reduce the loss of life and property due to natural disasters and to enable mitigation measures to be implemented during the immediate recovery from a disaster.
The National Environmental Policy Act directed that all agencies of the federal government shall "utilize a systematic, interdisciplinary approach which will insure the integrated use of the natural and social sciences and the environmental design arts in planning and in decisionmaking which may have an impact on man's environment" and include detailed analysis stating how any major federal action may significantly affect the quality of the human environment. The human environment has been construed to include social and economic conditions influencing the places where humans live.
When performing restoration work on a damaged facility, an applicant may decide to use the opportunity to make improvements to the facility. Projects that incorporate such improvements are called improved projects. The improved facility must have the same function and at least the equivalent capacity as that of the pre-disaster facility. Funding for such projects is limited to the federal share of the costs that would be associated with repairing or replacing the damaged facility to its pre-disaster design. The applicant must obtain approval for an improved project from the state prior to construction. Further, any improved project that results in a significant change from the pre-disaster configuration (that is, different location, footprint, function, or size) of the facility must also be approved by FEMA prior to construction to ensure completion of the appropriate environmental or historic review.
Mitigation (from natural hazards)
Hazard mitigation is any sustained action taken to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property from natural hazards and their effects.
Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)
The President's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) establishes and maintains the definitions of metropolitan areas solely for statistical purposes. All federal agencies that collect and publish data for MSAs use the most recent definitions of MSAs established by OMB.
National Emergency Management Information System (NEMIS)
NEMIS is a FEMA-wide system of hardware, software, telecommunications, and applications that provides a technology base to FEMA and its partners to carry out the emergency management mission. NEMIS integrates and automates tools to support operations for many of the agency's essential activities. NEMIS enables FEMA to use information as a strategic resource to provide effective and timely response, recovery, mitigation, and services, and also to provide access to the data and analytical tools necessary for making effective plans and decisions.
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) - enacted in 1969
The National Environmental Policy Act is the federal law that requires federal agencies to integrate environmental values into their decision-making processes by considering the environmental impacts of their proposed actions and reasonable alternatives to those actions. To meet this requirement, federal agencies may prepare a detailed statement known as an Environmental Impact Statement.
National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) - enacted in 1966
The National Historic Preservation Act mandates federal agencies to act as responsible stewards of our Nation's resources when their actions affect historic properties. The act established the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), which has legal responsibility to encourage federal agencies to factor historic preservation into federal project requirements.
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places (National Register) is the Nation's official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archaeological resources. Properties listed in the National Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture.
National Response Plan
The National Response Plan establishes a comprehensive all-hazards approach to enhance the ability of the United States to manage domestic incidents. The plan incorporates best practices and procedures from incident management disciplines-homeland security, emergency management, law enforcement, firefighting, public works, public health, responder and recovery worker health and safety, emergency medical services, and the private sector-and integrates them into a unified structure. It forms the basis of how the federal government coordinates with state, local, and tribal governments and the private sector during incidents.
An organization or individual who is associated with FEMA and shares a common interest in activities directly related to the accomplishment of FEMA's mission.
Work that must be performed through repairs or replacement to restore an eligible facility on the basis of its pre-disaster design, use, and current applicable standards (Public Assistance Program Category C-G).
Private Nonprofit (PNP) Applicant
An organization meeting FEMA's eligibility criteria for applicants and having an effective ruling letter from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service granting tax exemption under Section 501(c), (d), or (e) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, as amended, or state certification that the organization is a nonprofit organization under state law.
"Public" means all interested or affected parties, which can include private citizens, State, local, and Tribal governments, environmental groups, civic and community organizations, business and labor groups, and independent experts from the scientific, technical, and academic communities.
Grants from FEMA's Public Assistance Grant Program allow state and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations to respond to disasters, recover from the impact of disasters and mitigate impacts from future disasters. While these grants are aimed at governments and organizations, their goal is to help a community and all its citizens recover from devastating natural disasters.
Public participation is defined as open, ongoing, two-way communication between applicants and stakeholders. Two-way communication enables both the applicant and the public to learn about the other party’s views and opinions. It provides a means for applicants to gather a diverse set of options, perspectives, and values to assist in making informed decisions. Further, public participation benefits stakeholders by creating an opportunity to provide comment and influence decisions.
Recovery Support Branch
The mission of FEMA's Recovery Support Branch is to coordinate federal assistance in support of state and local government long-term community recovery goals and priorities in response to the impacts of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §5121 et seq. as amended, authorizes the President to provide financial and other forms of assistance to state and local governments, certain private nonprofit organizations, and individuals to support response, recovery, and mitigation efforts following presidentially declared major disasters and emergencies. The Stafford Act describes the declaration process, the types and extent of assistance that may be provided, and fundamental eligibility requirements. FEMA acts on behalf of the President per Executive Order 12673.
Stakeholders can be collectives such as neighborhood groups, social movements or local network enterprises that are composites whose purposes are dependent on or guided by the preference of their members. They can include unions, chambers of commerce or employee organizations.