SHREVEPORT, La. -- Typically, when disaster strikes, the first reaction by those directly affected is to address personal and family safety issues, followed by concern with material losses. And fortunately, there are recovery mechanisms in place ready to respond to a community's urgent needs.
There is, however, another element of disaster recovery that often is not so widely publicized. It is a form of assistance that affects an entire community, but usually not in the immediate and direct way individual assistance programs do. That form of assistance is the federal Public Assistance (PA) program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
FEMA’s PA benefits everyone — neighborhoods, cities and states. PA dollars clean up the communities, repair the bridges people cross every day going to work and school, put water systems and utilities back in order, clean and rebuild libraries as well as replace the damaged books, repair hospitals and emergency services, rebuild schools and universities, and put playground equipment back in public parks. These PA funds benefit facilities and services used by the entire community.
Types of entities that may be eligible for Public Assistance include:
- State government agencies;
- Local governments, and special districts;
- Private nonprofit organizations or institutions that own or operate facilities that are open to the general public; and
- Federally recognized tribes.
"FEMA Public Assistance dollars come to Louisiana communities through a partnership of cost sharing between applicants and the federal government," says FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer Gerard M. Stolar, "FEMA picks up 75 percent of the eligible cost of putting a community back on its feet, and the remainder comes from non-federal sources, such as state and/or local funding."
Under the federal disaster declaration of Dec. 10, 2009, Beauregard, Bossier, Caldwell, Claiborne, Catahoula, De Soto, Franklin, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Union, and Webster parishes are eligible to apply for Public Assistance for the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding from Oct. 29 to Nov. 3, 2009.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.