LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The Public Assistance process for damages inflicted by Hurricane Gustav has begun in Arkansas.
The Public Assistance (PA) program is helping state and local governments as well as certain Private Non-Profit organizations (PNPs) recover from the disaster. The storms and tornados that blew through the state September 2 - 9 left debris in streets, damaged public buildings and shut down or damaged electric cooperatives.
"There's a process and timeline in place to address the eligibility of damages," explained FEMA Public Assistance Officer Rebecca Crum. "It may seem complex, but there are often big dollar amounts involved. We partner with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management 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 October 18 (30 days after a disaster declaration).
"An RPA needs to be completed in order for federal assistance to be available," said ADEM Public Assistance Officer Scott Bass.? Due to Hurricane Gustav, we anticipate about 75 requests to be filed."
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 and damaged roads and bridges.
The PA process includes applicant briefings with designated county, city and eligible PNP organization officials followed by a kickoff meeting. Applicants must identify and submit damages within 60 days of the FEMA kickoff meeting.? A project worksheet is then written for each category of damage.
"Site inspections are conducted prior to writing the project worksheets," said Bass. ?"We expect to process about 400 project worksheets for this disaster."
When approved, FEMA will typically pay 75 percent of the eligible 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, Ken Riley. "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.