LINCROFT, N.J. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency has closed its first Public Assistance projects undertaken in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
The first two large projects FEMA and the State of New Jersey closed were debris removal in Atlantic County, which was federally obligated for $169,937.65, and Category B emergency protective measures in Lower Township, Cape May County, for $40,067.20. Category B can consist of anything safety-related, from temporary traffic signs and barricades to sandbagging, deploying police and fire crews and emergency construction and/or demolition.
The State of New Jersey has submitted 63 large projects to FEMA Public Assistance that are ready to be closed. The closeout process begins when a project is funded and completed. The applicant must certify to the state that the work is finished and all of the allocated money was spent. Small projects are often bundled together under one applicant and can be closed as a group when they are all complete. Large projects must be closed individually. Work has started on 20, said Chris Baggot, FEMA Public Assistance Task Force Leader.
More than $1.15 billion in Public Assistance grants have been obligated in New Jersey since Hurricane Sandy struck in October 2012. There have been 1,724 applicants for Public Assistance. The Public Assistance FAQ at www.fema.gov defines a large project as any incident with damage costs greater than a predetermined amount that is recalculated every fiscal year. As of February 26, 2014, the threshold was raised from $68,500 to $120,000 because of the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013. Of the estimated 5,146 Public Assistance projects in the system in New Jersey, 1,585 are considered large projects.
Through the Public Assistance program, FEMA grants state governments money to reimburse municipalities, county governments and eligible private nonprofit agencies for the repair or replacement of damaged roads and bridges, water-control facilities, public buildings and their contents, publicly owned utilities, and parks and recreation areas. It also includes funds for emergency services and eligible debris-removal costs related to the disaster. FEMA reimbursed these applicants 90 percent of the eligible cost.
“We have been able to accelerate the process to get to the point where we can close out projects and get people their money,” Baggot said.
After all project work is certified as complete, the Final Inspection Report (FIR) is initiated. Supporting documents are audited and added to the report, and amendments may be written after cost overages and/or shortfalls are reconciled. After the report is reviewed by the applicant and grantee, it is entered into the Emergency Management Mission Integrated Environment (EMMIE) grant tracking program. The project is then closed if the grantee (in this case, the state) requests it.
“If a project isn’t closed, we’re usually waiting for additional data from the applicants if the work has at least been completed,” Baggot said.
More than $762 million has been obligated for emergency projects, including debris removal and emergency protective measures, while permanent repairs to roads, bridges, water control facilities, utilities and buildings, have cost $380.5 million.
“Our goal is to have the large projects finished in two years,” Baggot said.
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.
The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.