INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Floods and tornadoes threaten more than homes. Hoosiers know how storms can damage or destroy bridges, highways, public buildings, parks, and water treatment plants, not to mention leaving tons of debris or disrupting communications and emergency services.
In addition to the many individual assistance programs available to help residents recover from the tornadoes and flooding that occurred from May 25 through June 25, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also offers a helping hand to communities, county and state agencies and some private non-profit organizations through the Public Assistance (PA) program.
“Communities often do not have the means or resources to bounce back quickly from a natural disaster,” according to Justo “Tito” Hernandez, federal coordination officer for FEMA. “ The PA program reimburses local government for costs incurred and allows them to plan for rebuilding with prevention in mind.”
Counties that are designated for this program under the Presidential disaster declaration of June 3 are Benton, Clark, Crawford, Floyd, Fountain, Greene, Harrison, Martin, Miami, Orange, Owen, Perry, Spencer, Tippecanoe, Union, Warren, Warrick, and Washington.
For projects that are approved, FEMA will pay 75 percent of the cost. The state determines how the non-federal share (25 percent) is divided with the applicants. These projects typically include such things as debris removal, emergency services related to the storms, and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities. The latter category includes schools, libraries and other public buildings, and the repair of roads, bridges, water control facilities, utilities and recreational facilities. FEMA issues PA grants directly to the state, which reimburses applicants as sub-grantees.
Private non-profit organizations may qualify for assistance to restore certain types of facilities that include educational, utility, emergency, medical, custodial care and other facilities that provide essential government types of services.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages Citizen Corps, the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.