HARRISBURG, Pa. -- When disaster strikes, the first response is to ensure personal and family safety, and then address the loss of property and possessions. There is a federal disaster program - Individual Assistance (IA) - that responds to these urgent needs of individuals and business owners.
Now, another essential element of disaster response is supporting the recovery efforts that help rebuild important community assets: Public Assistance (PA).
The PA program, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is typically not funded in the immediate and direct way that Individual Assistance programs are.
FEMA's PA benefits everyone - neighborhoods, cities and states, as well as certain private nonprofit organizations. 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.
PA provides a minimum of 75 percent of the cost to repair or replace disaster-damaged infrastructure.
A federal share of more than $4.5 million helped fund emergency work and debris removal soon after Irene and Lee struck. Other PA projects are now being developed and approved by local, commonwealth, and federal officials. Several will take many months. The estimated cost when complete: more than $200 million.
"Public Assistance grants support the work that helps an entire community recover," said FEMA's Federal Coordinating Officer Thomas J. McCool. "These are federal tax dollars coming back to Pennsylvania to rebuild taxpayer-funded infrastructure."
Public Assistance grant applicants can include:
- commonwealth agencies
- local and county governments
- private nonprofit organizations that own or operate facilities that provide essential government-type services
Recovery officials are currently working with more than 1,900 applicants to develop specifications and costs for an estimated 6,000 projects.
"Helping put communities back together after historic storms like Irene and Lee requires long-term efforts and commitments," said McCool. "FEMA is here to support the Pennsylvania recovery as long as we're needed."
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.