Public Assistance Helps Communities After Disaster

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Release date: 
July 17, 2007
Release Number: 

ALBANY, N.Y. -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is providing a helping hand to New York communities, county and state agencies and some private nonprofit organizations that sustained damages during the June 19 storms and flooding. 

Disasters can affect many different aspects of a community.  Bridges may be damaged or destroyed along with highways, public buildings, parks and water treatment plants. Tons of debris can be left or communications and emergency services disrupted.

"By helping local and state governments recover and looking for ways to reduce future damages, federal disaster assistance has an impact on every individual in those communities," said William Vogel, federal coordinating officer.

Under the July 2 presidential disaster declaration, Public Assistance is available to local governments in Delaware, Sullivan and Ulster counties. Communities, state agencies and private nonprofits are now filing Requests for Public Assistance (RPAs) to initiate a disaster claim.

The New York State Emergency Management Office (SEMO), which administers the Public Assistance program, is briefing local officials on the assistance available and how to apply.

Federal, state and local teams have begun to inspect disaster-related damage, examine expenses identified by the state or local representatives and prepare reports that outline the scope of repair work needed and the estimated restoration cost.

For projects that are approved, FEMA will pay 75 percent of the cost and the state will reimburse the remaining 25 percent. These projects typically include debris removal, emergency services related to the flooding and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities. The latter category includes schools, libraries and other public buildings, repairing roads, bridges, water control facilities, utilities and recreational facilities.

Some nonprofit 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.

Hazard mitigation, another assistance program, identifies areas where local or state governments can prevent or reduce damages in future flooding. This mitigation may take the form of flood-proofing, moving structures, lining ditches, building bigger culverts and redesigning bridges to withstand greater flows.

State and local governments work together to identify projects where hazard mitigation grants can be most useful, cost effective and have the greatest impact. All the projects submitted are reviewed by an interagency steering committee made up of representatives from state and federal agencies. The projects are administered by the SEMO.  For projects chosen, 75 percent of the funding comes from FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. 

FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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