WESTFIELD, Mass. -- When disaster strikes, the first reaction is to address personal and family safety issues, followed by a concern for material losses. There is a federal disaster program -- Individual Assistance (IA) -- that responds to the urgent needs of individuals and business owners. There is another equally important element of disaster recovery that is not so widely known -- Public Assistance (PA).
Communities and governmental entities in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire with damage and losses from Tropical Storm Irene, are eligible for PA under the declaration issued by President Obama on September 3 for Massachusetts.
The PA program, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is assistance that addresses an entire community but usually not in the immediate and direct way that Individual Assistance programs do.
FEMA's PA benefits everyone -- neighborhoods, cities and states. PA dollars clean up the community, repair bridges, put water systems and utilities back in order, rebuild libraries and replace damaged books, repair hospitals and emergency services, rebuild schools and universities and restore damaged public parks so that families can enjoy them again.
"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 James N. Russo. "FEMA picks up 75 percent of the eligible cost of putting a community back on its feet."
Types of entities that may be eligible for Public Assistance include:
- State government agencies;
- Local and county governments;
- Private nonprofit organizations that own or operate facilities that provide essential government-type services
PA grants are available to cover costs in seven work categories:
- Category A: debris removal
- Category B: emergency protective measures
- Category C: road systems and bridges
- Category D: water control facilities
- Category E: public buildings, contents and equipment
- Category F: utilities
- Category G: parks and recreational
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.