BOSTON, MA. – While COVID-19 continues to stir across the nation, Massachusetts and other New England states—along with numerous federal partners coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency—are working to help communities recover from a health crisis not seen in over 100 years.
For months, The Bay State and FEMA have led a joint effort to support the Commonwealth and two Tribal Nations through the coordination of eighteen additional federal agencies, the private sector, voluntary organizations, and U.S. military medical personnel.
To date more than $78 million in federal funding has been granted to the commonwealth; the federal government has also provided significant amounts of PPE including: 770,800 gloves, 737,300 surgical masks and 1.6 million N95 respirators; and federal partners like the U.S. Small Business Administration have approved over $2.8 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Loans to keep businesses across the commonwealth afloat.
Today, FEMA continues to support Massachusetts with an eye toward recovery. Public Assistance grants will help communities meet the costs of responding to the pandemic, and FEMA’s partnerships and expertise will be brought to bear to help the commonwealth meet its long-term recovery goals and recover stronger, safer and smarter.
In close coordination with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, FEMA Region 1 has also provided $707,506 through the Crisis Counselling Immediate Services Program to provide counseling to victims of COVID-19. These funds were used to create a new statewide crisis counselling program, Mass Support, managed by Riverside Trauma Center and the MA Department of Mental Health.
Massachusetts has also received an ISP program extension through August 24, 2020 until a determination is made concerning Massachusetts’ Regular Services Program (RSP) grant application.
FEMA’s Public Assistance grant program provides essential funding for communities recovering from a federally declared disaster or emergency. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency works with FEMA during all phases of the PA program and conducts final reviews of FEMA-approved projects.
To date, more than $7 million in PA funding has been approved to reimburse the commonwealth, tribal, and local governments, and certain types of private non-profit organizations, for costs associated with emergency protective measures enacted to quickly respond to COVID-19.
The federal share for Public Assistance projects is not less than 75 percent of the eligible cost. The state determines how the non-federal share of the cost of a project (up to 25 percent) is split with the sub-recipients like local and county governments.
FEMA’s role in Long-Term Recovery is to ease communication and collaboration among stakeholders and support disaster recovery planning. This process opens access to funding from federal agencies other than FEMA.
The first step of the LTR process is to conduct a Rapid Needs Assessment. In Massachusetts the assessment is underway, with representative communities (Barnstable, Chelsea and Pittsfield) chosen and stakeholders identified to provide insights and locate gaps in the commonwealth’s recovery needs.
The completed assessment is expected soon and the findings will ultimately allow Massachusetts to make informed decisions about which economic solutions to pursue.
While COVID-19 recovery efforts are ongoing, FEMA continues to prepare for the pending hurricane season. “FEMA is building redundancy in our response capabilities and leveraging technology where possible to reduce person to person contact. Examples include damage inspections done virtually through facetime, hotels for sheltering and Civil Air Patrol (CAP) flyovers for property damage assessments. Such information can be critical to hurricane response, as well as COVID cases.” said Regional Administrator and Federal Coordinating Officer Captain Russ Webster, who oversees FEMA’s operations in Massachusetts.
Given the current situation with Hurricane Isaias, Webster emphasized the importance of FEMA’s preparedness, “We are fully staffed to assist as needed.” Webster asked that the public pay attention to weather alerts and directions from local officials because flooding and storm surge from storms like Isaias can happen quickly.
FEMA’s mission is helping people before, during, and after disasters.