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FEMA's Public Assistance Program - Building the Road to Recovery

Release date: 
March 14, 2008
Release Number: 

Honolulu, Hawaii -- After a federally declared disaster, like the severe storms, high surf, flooding and mudslides of December 4-7, 2007, getting funds to repair or rebuild damaged public infrastructure is a critical part of the response and recovery process.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through its Public Assistance (PA) Grant Program reimburses state and local governments for the actual costs for work required as a result of the disaster. The program also provides funds for certain hazard mitigation projects.

Eligible work is documented on a Project Worksheet (PW). The PW is used to record a detailed description, the scope of eligible work, estimated or actual cost, and special considerations associated with the project. FEMA then reviews, approves and obligates the entire federal share of that project. Once FEMA obligates a PW, the funds become immediately available to the state for disbursement to applicants.

To facilitate the processing of the PA grants, FEMA distinguishes between emergency work and permanent work that requires repairs or replacement of public facilities including roads, buildings and schools. FEMA further divides disaster-related work into seven categories.

The Federal share of assistance is not less than 75% of the eligible cost for emergency measures and permanent restoration.

Emergency Work

Category A: Debris Removal - Clearance of trees and woody debris; building wreckage, sand, mud, silt and gravel; vehicles; and other material deposited on public and, in very limited cases, private property.

Category B: Emergency Protective Measures - Measures taken before, during and immediately after a disaster to save lives, protect public health and safety, and protect improved public and private property.

Examples of eligible emergency protective measures are:

  • Security forces (police and guards)
  • Provision of shelters or emergency care
  • Sandbagging
  • Bracing/shoring up of damaged structures
  • Emergency repairs
  • Emergency demolition
  • Removal of health and safety hazards

Permanent Work

  • Category C : Roads and Bridges - Repair of roads, bridges, shoulders, ditches, lighting and signs
  • Category D : Water Control Facilities - Repair of irrigation systems, drainage channels and pumping facilities; repair of levees, dams and flood control channels is eligible but limited
  • Category E : Buildings and Equipment - Repair or replacement of public buildings, including contents and systems; heavy equipment; and vehicles
  • Category F : Utilities - Repair of water treatment and delivery systems; power generation facilities and distribution lines; and sewage collection and treatment facilities
  • Category G : Parks, Recreational Facilities, Other - Repair and restoration of parks, playgrounds, pools, cemeteries and beaches; work otherwise not covered in categories A-F

FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.

Last Updated: 
July 8, 2017 - 11:17
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