NEW ORLEANS, La. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) recently announced several million dollars in reimbursement funding to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) for their activation of emergency protective measures related to Hurricane Ike.
"The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry will continue to fulfill its mission to supply fuel for emergency needs," said Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain. "We're thankful FEMA has been there to help us accomplish our task. In the meantime, our staff will remain prepared for all contingencies that may arise during a declared disaster."
Various state agencies, parishes, municipalities and other public emergency response entities were left with limited fuel supplies following the storm. To remedy this public safety threat, the LDAF, through the state's Emergency Operation Center, activated its pre-event contract arrangement with Macro Oil Company for the purchase and distribution of fuel for life supporting and relief and recovery missions where needed throughout the state.
The activated contract arrangement included the establishment of five fuel distribution centers throughout Louisiana and a staff of 110 employees to oversee the distribution operations between Sept. 13, 2008 and Oct. 26, 2008.
"One of FEMA's main messages is that of preparedness against future disasters," said FEMA's Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office Acting Director Tony Russell. "I commend the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry for having a pre-event contract arrangement for fuel in place before Hurricane Ike even made landfall, which enabled them to quickly meet the emergency needs of their communities by providing critical fuel supplies in the immediate aftermath of the storm."
FEMA's public assistance grant totals $3.3 million and reimburses the LDAF for incurred costs related to these emergency operations - mainly actual fuel purchases as well as eligible overtime labor.
Louisiana Recovery Authority Executive Director Paul Rainwater said, "When a disaster strikes, the effectiveness of any community's response is dependent on having transportation available to first responders. When critical fuel supplies dwindled after the storm because sellers could not replenish their stock, our first responders were provided with a source of fuel that could be counted on in the face of scarcity. The Department of Agriculture and Forestry's precautionary measures ensured that emergency operations in the affected areas could continue."
When FEMA approves projects through its supplemental Public Assistance grant, the funds are transferred to a federal Smartlink account. Once the funds have reached this account, the applicant can request reimbursement from the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) for eligible work completed. Obligated funds may change over time as the project worksheet is a living grant that is often adjusted as bids come in and scope of work is aligned.
The Public Assistance program works with state and local officials to fund recovery measures and the rebuilding of government and certain private nonprofit organizations' buildings, as well as roads, bridges and water and sewer plants. In order for the process to be successful, federal, state and local partners coordinate to draw up project plans, fund these projects and oversee their completion.
FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.