Questions and Answers About FEMA's Public Assistance Grant Program

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Release date: 
September 27, 2012
Release Number: 

BATON ROUGE, La. — The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance (PA) Grant Program provides supplemental financial assistance to state and local government agencies, certain private nonprofit organizations and federally recognized tribal governments to help pay for response and recovery expenses incurred because of Hurricane Isaac. Assistance is available to eligible applicants in 55 Louisiana parishes.

What type of work is eligible for PA reimbursement? Two types of work are eligible:

  • Emergency Work including removal and disposal of disaster-related debris and emergency measures taken to protect lives and property before, during and after the storm
  • Permanent Repair to roads and bridges, water control facilities, public buildings and equipment, public utilities, and parks and recreational and other facilities that received disaster-related damage

What kinds of nonprofit organizations are eligible? Nonprofits that provide critical services to the public such as:

  • Hospitals and other medical treatment facilities
  • Fire, police and other emergency services
  • Power, water and sewer facilities
  • Educational institutions

And, those that provide essential services* to the public such as:

  • Libraries, museums and zoos
  • Community centers
  • Homeless shelters and rehabilitation centers
  • Senior citizen centers and daycare centers

*Private nonprofits that provide essential services are eligible for PA for emergency work. For permanent repairs they must apply to the U.S. Small Business Administration for a low-interest disaster loan before applying to FEMA.

Who manages the Public Assistance reimbursement program?

The PA program is based on a partnership among FEMA, the state and applicants. FEMA approves grants and provides technical assistance to the state and applicants. The state informs potential applicants about the process, works with FEMA to manage the program and is responsible for disbursing funds and monitoring the grants awarded. Applicants are responsible for identifying damage, providing information necessary for FEMA to approve grants, managing the funded projects and providing documentation to the state that project expenses have been paid.

Does FEMA reimburse 100 percent of eligible expenses?

FEMA’s PA program is a cost-sharing, reimbursement program. FEMA pays 75 percent of eligible costs and the state and/or applicant pays the remaining 25 percent.

What is the sequence of delivery for the PA process?

Submission - The state with FEMA support holds Applicant Briefings throughout the disaster-affected areas to provide an overview of the PA program and answer questions. Applicants usually have 30 days from the date of declaration or designation of the parish to submit a Request for Public Assistance (RPA) to the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Applications are reviewed for eligibility by state and FEMA officials.

Approval – FEMA and state PA specialists meet individually with an applicant at a kick-off meeting to discuss specific needs. Teams visit damage sites and reach a consensus on work needed to return the site to pre-disaster condition.  Applicants have 60 days from kick-off to identify damage. A project worksheet is developed that outlines the scope of work, describes damages and dimensions and estimates the cost for the project. The project is reviewed by FEMA and state environmental and historic preservation specialists, and PA and mitigation specialists, to ensure it complies with all relevant state and federal regulations. If the project is approved it is funded. If the project is denied the applicant has 60 days to appeal the decision.

Emergency measure projects must be completed within 6 months of the declaration or designation of the parish. Permanent repair projects must be completed within 18 months of declaration or designation.

Reimbursement – FEMA provides the approved funds to the state. The state disburses the funds to the applicant. As the project proceeds, the applicant periodically requests funds from the state as invoices are submitted. The state holds the balance of funds until project completion.

Closeout – The state determines the final cost of accomplishing the eligible work and submits information on the completed project to FEMA. The state certifies the actual costs were incurred to complete the eligible work. Applicants must maintain records of completed work for three years after the official closeout. Projects are subject to state and federal audits.

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Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status.  If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.

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.  Follow us on Twitter at!/femaregion6, the R6 Hurricane Preparedness website at and the FEMA Blog at

Last Updated: 
September 28, 2012 - 07:23
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