HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Federal assistance may be available to help Pennsylvania communities rebuild infrastructure to higher, more disaster-resistant standards and commonwealth officials are encouraging local governments to take advantage of that funding.
The assistance to communities is part of the aid that became available following Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
"Generally, the federal Public Assistance program restores disaster damaged infrastructure to pre-disaster conditions," said Thomas J. McCool, federal coordinating officer 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 Public Assistance program provides federal funds to reimburse a minimum of 75 percent of the costs for removing debris, conducting emergency protective measures and repairing levees, roads, bridges, public utilities, water control facilities, public buildings and parks. Mitigation funding may be considered in each project category.
The commonwealth's share of eligible project costs is 25 percent. Eligible applicants may include:
- commonwealth agencies
- local and county governments
- private nonprofit organizations that own or operate facilities that provide essential government-type services
"Studies show that every $1 paid toward mitigation saves an average of $4 in future disaster-related costs," said Commonwealth Coordinating Officer Roland "Bud" Mertz of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA). "By adding mitigation money to repair costs, our goal is to reduce or eliminate damages from future disasters."
As part of the process for applying for federal assistance, experts from PEMA and FEMA help applicants identify projects that will qualify for the special mitigation program. Officials urge applicants to take advantage of the funds.
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.