Public Assistance Funds Strengthen Communities

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Release date: 
May 19, 2003
Release Number: 
1455-64

Charleston, WV -- "Public Assistance (PA) helps to strengthen communities that do not have the means or resources to bounce back quickly from a natural disaster," according to Stephen Kappa, state coordinating officer. "It reimburses local governments for costs they've had to expend because of a disaster and it allows them to plan for rebuilding with prevention in mind."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) share of assistance is 75 percent of the eligible cost for emergency measures and permanent restoration. The State determines how the non-federal share (25 percent) is divided with the applicants.

PA grants are awarded to help pay for emergency protective measures such as police overtime, debris clearance to open vital roads and rights-of-way and removal of threats to public safety. Grants are also awarded for permanent repairs to roads, water control facilities, public buildings and utilities. This work involves restoring infrastructure to its pre-disaster condition and can range from minor repairs to total replacement.

FEMA's PA 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.

To be eligible for PA, the damage must exceed $1,000, the work must be required as a result of the declared disaster, it must be located within the designated disaster area and the repair or restoration must be the responsibility of the applicant. Also, insurance must be deducted and assistance cannot be available from any other federal agency.

Examples of eligible private nonprofit facilities include electric and water utilities, custodial care and medical organizations and educational institutions. Native American nations and organizations also are eligible recipients. Eligible nonprofits must hold current federal tax-exempt status and some may be required to apply with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Projects are classified according to the estimated cost. Small projects are those with an estimated cost of less than $53,000.

"FEMA is committed to ensuring eligible applicants receive all the assistance available under the law," Louis Botta, federal coordinating officer, said.

Federal assistance is reduced by the amount of any insurance payments for damaged facilities that duplicates FEMA funding.

FEMA issues public assistance grants directly to the state, which reimburses applicants as sub-grantees. It generally takes between four and six weeks after field inspections to process grants and get checks out to the applicants.

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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