By Susan Greatorex, FEMA External Affairs
“Project specialist” is the most important job in Public Assistance.
FEMA project specialists work directly with their state counterparts and applicants to develop project worksheets that define eligible costs so FEMA can reimburse state agencies, local governments and certain eligible nonprofit organizations.
“It may be a road or a building on paper, but it’s always about the community and the people,” Libby Turner, deputy federal coordinating officer, told the New Jersey Public Assistance team – more than 400 strong and building – at their all-hands meeting Jan. 12, at the Joint Field Office, Lincroft, N.J.
The day was inspirational. Turner started with a leadership video about climbing Mount Everest and urged the team to “clarify purpose, align systems, unleash talent and inspire trust” to do the job.
The job: Write an estimated 8,000 project worksheets for $2.4 billion, plus $11 billion more for the bi-state Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Mike Hall, field coordination officer, welcomed the public assistance team. Bill Schaffer, representing the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, said thank you and expressed the state’s trust in working with FEMA to help New Jerseyans recover from Sandy.
Chuck Chaffins, Infrastructure branch director, closed the meeting with the following charge: “Go out and rebuild civilization.”