POST FALLS, Idaho -- Disasters threaten more than homes. Bridges, highways, public buildings, parks and water treatment plants can be damaged or destroyed. Tons of debris can be left to be removed; communications and emergency services can be disrupted.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is offering a helping hand to communities, county and state agencies, and some private nonprofit organizations damaged by the flooding that occurred between May 15 and June 9, 2008. Under the presidential disaster declaration of July 31, 2008, Public Assistance (PA) is available to local governments in two Idaho counties: Kootenai and Shoshone.
"FEMA Public Assistance dollars come to the community through a partnership of cost sharing between the state, local authorities and the federal government," says FEMA's Federal Coordinating Officer Douglas Mayne. "FEMA picks up 75 percent of the eligible cost of putting a community back on its feet. The state of Idaho provides 15 percent, and the local applicant pays 10 percent."
The Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security (BHS) administers the PA program. Representatives from BHS and FEMA have briefed local officials on the assistance available and how to apply. Community officials who wish to file a Request for Public Assistance (RPA) have until August 31 to do so and are urged to contact their local emergency manager to receive information about the process. Almost all communities and state agencies suffering damage from the flooding have filed RPAs to initiate their disaster claims.
Eligible projects typically include debris removal, emergency services related to the flooding, and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, such as schools, libraries and other public buildings, repairing roads, bridges, water control facilities, utilities and recreational facilities.
Some nonprofit organizations also may qualify for assistance to restore facilities that provide essential government types of services, including educational, utility, emergency, medical, and custodial care facilities.
Under the declaration, some hazard mitigation funds are available on a competitive basis to communities throughout the state. Hazard mitigation identifies areas where local or state governments can prevent or reduce damages in future flooding. Typical mitigation projects would be flood-proofing, moving structures, lining ditches, building bigger culverts, and redesigning bridges to withstand greater flows.
State and local governments work together to search out projects where hazard mitigation programs can be most useful, cost effective and have the greatest impact. All the projects submitted are reviewed by an interagency committee made up of representatives from state and federal agencies. The projects are administered by Idaho BHS.
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.