Watertown, SD -- Seventeen South Dakota counties were declared eligible for Public Assistance under President Bush's recent disaster declaration for damages due to severe winter storms, ice jams and flooding occurring between March 1 and April 30.
"Public Assistance addresses important public needs," stated Gracia Szczech, federal coordinating officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). "Most of the damages under this disaster are to roads, bridges and culverts that were impacted by spring flooding."
Public Assistance provides supplemental federal disaster assistance for the repair, replacement or restoration of disaster-damaged, publicly owned infrastructure and facilities. The federal share of assistance is 75 percent of the eligible cost for emergency measures and permanent repair. It is anticipated that some 400 Requests for Public Assistance will be submitted by state and local governments in South Dakota's declared counties.
"Public Assistance helps to strengthen communities which do not have the means or resources to bounce back from a natural disaster," said John Berheim, state coordinating officer for the South Dakota Division of Emergency Management. "Some South Dakota communities have struggled year after year to deal with these kinds of damages."
To be eligible for PA, work must be required as a result of the disaster, be located within a designated disaster area and be the legal responsibility of the eligible applicant. It can be classified as either emergency or permanent work.
Debris removal and implementation of emergency protective measures are classified as emergency work. These are performed to eliminate or reduce immediate threats to the public during or immediately following a disaster. Permanent work usually involves restoring infrastructure to its pre-disaster design, ranging from minor repairs to total replacement.
The applicant must file a Request for Public Assistance with the State before the inspection process can take place. A Public Assistance Coordinator (PAC) will be assigned to each applicant. This coordinator will meet with the applicant to discuss the damage and identify the eligible scope of work at each damaged site. This same coordinator will work with the applicant through the completion of all projects.
Projects are classified according to the estimated cost. Small projects are those with an estimated cost of less than $50,600.
The Public Assistance Program encourages protection from future damage by providing assistance for hazard mitigation measures during the recovery period. "Site-specific" retrofitting or other steps taken to protect against future damage might be included in the work, if the applicant can demonstrate a favorable cost-benefit ratio.
South Dakota counties eligible for Public Assistance include Beadle, Brookings, Brown, Clark, Codington, Day, Grant, Hamlin, Hanson, Kingsbury, Marshall, Mellette, Moody, Roberts, Sanborn, Spink and Turner. Preliminary damages to infrastructure are estimated at $3.9 million.