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Public Assistance Helps Communities Recover from Disaster

Release date: 
September 13, 2007
Release Number: 

BERLIN, Vt. -- Disasters can often have a collective impact upon a community by inflicting damage upon critical infrastructure and public property, such as bridges and roads. Taking the lead role in helping communities recover is FEMA's Public Assistance (PA) Grant Program by providing aid to state agencies, local governments, tribal nations and certain non-profit organizations. Without this vital program, localities might face the prospect of cutting public services or raising taxes to pay for necessary repairs.

PA funding may be provided for the repair, replacement, or restoration of disaster-damaged facilities that are the responsibility of the applicant, as well as costs incurred for disaster cleanup or emergency actions taken to protect lives or property. The federal share of recovery costs is at least 75 percent; the remaining share is the responsibility of the state and local government or non-profit organization.

FEMA PA specialists provide guidance to state and local officials throughout the application process:

  1. The local entity completes FEMA's Request for Public Assistance (RPA) application. This form starts the grant process and opens a case management file, which contains general claim information in addition to records of meetings, conversations, phone messages and any special issues or concerns that may affect the funding. The RPA is usually submitted at an applicant briefing, a meeting coordinated by the state where the disaster assistance process is explained to local officials.

  2. A Public Assistance Coordinator (PAC) works with the applicant through funding approval. Public Assistance Coordinators (PAC)s from both FEMA and the state are assigned to work with applicants. The state PAC is responsible for providing the applicant with specific information on state regulations, documentation and reporting requirements, and assists the applicant through completion of the project. The PACs will then assign a Project Officer (PO) to hold a kickoff meeting with the applicant to review damages, assess needs and put in place a plan of action to deliver assistance.

  3. The project is formulated. Project formulation is the process of documenting eligible facilities, the eligible work and the eligible cost of repairing/replacing the identified damages. Repair projects are divided into small and large projects. A small project is any eligible work with an estimated cost under $59,700 with funding based on the usual federal share of 75 percent. Large projects, on the other hand, are projects with damage costs of $59,700 or more. These projects will be formulated as a team effort with FEMA, state and local representatives as partners. Funding for large projects is based on actual costs to complete the eligible scope of work.

  4. Project review and validation. The purpose of validation is to confirm the eligibility, compliance, accuracy, and reasonableness of small projects formulated by an applicant, and to ensure that the applicant receives the maximum amount of assistance available under the law.

  5. The local jurisdiction moves ahead with its project. FEMA will provide reimbursement through the state based on the appropriate cost share. Following completion of each project, there is a review to see if the project cost differs from the estimate.

The PA Program may only provide assistance for projects that are located in a disaster-declared area and are the legal responsibility of an eligible applicant. The program cannot provide assistance for projects that are under the jurisdiction of other federal agencies, such as roads and bridges that are a part of the federal highway system or facilities located on federal ...

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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