LINCOLN, Neb. -- Federal assistance may be available to help Nebraska communities rebuild infrastructure to higher, more disaster-resistant standards and state officials are encouraging local governments to take advantage of that funding.
The assistance is part of the aid that becomes available following a federally-declared disaster. Fifty-three Nebraska counties were made eligible for federal Public Assistance (PA) as a result of the severe storms, flooding and tornadoes that began June 1.
“Generally, the PA program restores disaster damaged infrastructure to pre-disaster conditions,” said Stephen R. Thompson, who is directing the current federal recovery efforts in Nebraska for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “But when it is cost effective and technically feasible, it makes sense to rebuild to higher standards that can prevent future loss.”
FEMA’s PA program provides federal funds to reimburse a minimum of 75 percent of the costs for removing debris, conducting emergency measures and repairing levees, roads, bridges, public utilities, water control facilities, public buildings and parks. Mitigation funding may be considered in each project category.
"Studies show that every $1 paid toward mitigation saves an average of $4 in future disaster-related costs,” said Al Berndt, assistant director of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). "By adding mitigation money to repair costs, our goal is to reduce or eliminate damages from future disasters of a similar nature.”
As part of the process for applying for disaster assistance, experts from NEMA and FEMA help applicants identify projects that will qualify for the special mitigation program. Officials urge applicants to take advantage of the funds.
The 53 Nebraska counties eligible for PA are: Antelope, Arthur, Blaine, Boone, Boyd, Brown, Burt, Cass, Chase, Cherry, Cheyenne, Colfax, Cuming, Custer, Dodge, Douglas, Frontier, Garden, Garfield, Greeley, Harlan, Hayes, Holt, Howard, Keya Paha, Knox, Lincoln, Logan, Loup, Madison, McPherson, Morrill, Nance, Nemaha, Nuckolls, Otoe, Perkins, Phelps, Pierce, Platte, Richardson, Rock, Sarpy, Saunders, Sherman, Sioux, Stanton, Thomas, Valley, Washington, Wayne, Webster and Wheeler.
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.