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FEMA's Public Assistance Process Explained

Release date: 
July 19, 2018
Release Number: 

PHILADELPHIA – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is aware of recent local media reports within West Virginia that raise questions about how and when FEMA Public Assistance (PA) projects are funded. We want to contribute to an environment of plain language and help simplify these complicated roles and processes that are governed by statute in order to protect taxpayer dollars while meeting the needs of the communities. FEMA is committed to working with the State of West Virginia and our partners across the state to advance long term recovery and help those same communities navigate the PA program. FEMA has already provided several briefings to the Recipient (State) as well as the many Subrecipients (Applicants).  Here is how it works:


Following a federal disaster declaration, FEMA coordinates with the State on implementing our programs and making assistance available. In the PA program, FEMA, the Recipient (the State), and the subrecipient (applicant for funding, such as a county, state agency, community, or eligible nonprofit) each have a responsibility with respect to how the PA program is implemented and coordinate together to deliver the program in the affected communities.

 requests assistance; identifies damaged facilities; provides information to support request; maintains accurate documentation; and performs necessary work (repair, debris, etc.).
<p>This graphic outlines the responsiblities for implementing the Public Assistance (PA) program for FEMA, the Recipient (the State) and the Subrecipient (Applicant).</p> Download Original

These responsibilities are outlined and simplified on this chart. While each has a distinct responsibility, FEMA is committed to helping both the Recipient and the Subrecipients fully understand this.


When a federal disaster declaration is made following an incident, FEMA works with the State to begin the PA process for Subrecipients. The process, outlined in the second chart, mirrors the responsibilities and helps each party understand when and where their tasks and duties arise within the timeline.

 the State provides funding to the subrecipient (i.e. local community). Then the subrecipient has 18 months to complete the permanent work. After this step, it reads
<p>This graphic explains the Public Aassistance process. The sequence begins with FEMA and the State working with applicants to develop projects following a federal disaster declaration, and ends once the project has been closed and funding has been distributed to the applicant.</p> Download Original

FEMA, the State, and the applicants work in a partnership to ensure the recipient and subrecipients receive the fullest amount of assistance legally allowed. This process protects all parties to ensure compliance.

FEMA continues to work closely with the State and applicants to ensure funding is being used correctly and that communities are able to access funds throughout their recovery. 

For additional information on the Public Assistance process, please visit For more information, contact West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Public Assistance Office at (304) 957-2573.


FEMA’s mission is helping people before, during, and after disasters. FEMA Region III’s jurisdiction includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Learn more about FEMA Region III at Stay informed of FEMA’s activities online: videos and podcasts are available at and Follow us on Twitter at


Last Updated: 
July 19, 2018 - 13:36