ATLANTA, Ga. -- Specific requests and meeting deadlines - that's what drives the application process for Public Assistance (PA) from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Other than affecting families and individuals, the storms and tornados that blew through the state May 11-12 left debris in streets, damaged public buildings and shut down or damaged electric cooperatives. The Public Assistance program is helping state and local governments and certain Private Nonprofit (PNP) organizations recover from disaster.
"There's a process and timeline in place to address the eligibility of damages," explained GEMA Public Assistance Director, Angi Ford. "It may seem complex, but there are often big dollar amounts involved. We partner with FEMA to assist applicants in getting the right assistance."
Soon after a declaration is made, an applicant can send in a Request for Public Assistance (RPA) to the state. The deadline to submit an RPA for this disaster is June 21 (30 days after a disaster declaration).
"An RPA is a non-specific request for assistance," said Jason Jackson, FEMA PA task force leader. "They are really general statements that the damage is beyond their capabilities to handle.? We anticipate about 54 of them to be sent in by the June 21 deadline."
Requests from declared counties are for debris removal, public building repairs, replacement of facilities and repairs to utility cooperatives. There are seven categories of work, encompassing debris removal, emergency protective measures, and permanent restoration of infrastructure. Jackson said he expects few - if any - requests for help with repairs for damaged roads and bridges. The biggest PA dollar amount will go to debris removal. So far, about 35 percent has been removed.
GEMA, which administers the Public Assistance program, hosted applicant briefings to provide general information. FEMA followed these with kickoff meetings for potential applicants to let them know what type of damage qualifies for the formal documentation of specifically requested assistance - the Project Worksheet or PW. This is when FEMA decides how to capture the damage on the PW.? One Project Worksheet can address only one category of damage.
Applicants must identify and submit damages within 60 days of a FEMA kickoff meeting.? "Site inspections are conducted prior to writing the PWs," said Jackson.? "We expect to process about 250 project worksheets for this disaster."
When approved, FEMA will typically pay 75 percent of the cost. There are no estimates yet for the total amount of grants to be awarded.
"We're here to assist with the process and to fund the projects," said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer, Jeff Bryant. "The PA program is based upon a partnership of FEMA, state and local officials. It's working well for this disaster."
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.