fema-public-assistanceYou survived, you got power back, and you are cleaning up – now what?  FEMA Public Assistance Grants can help you rebuild your communities.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, many municipalities are currently focused on helping their residents deal with lack of power and heat, and ensuring that their homes are safe places to live.  Once the initial cleanup is completed and life for the residents has stabilized, these municipalities will be faced with the daunting task of recovery, rebuilding, and taking action to prevent future disasters.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance (PA) Grant Program provides disaster recovery assistance to State, tribal and local governments and certain types of non-profit organizations.  Through the PA program, FEMA provides supplemental federal disaster grant assistance for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and the repair, replacement and restoration of disaster-damaged publicly owned facilities (and facilities of certain types of non-profit organizations).  The PA program also encourages protection of these damaged facilities from future events by providing assistance for hazard mitigation measures during the recovery process.

The federal share of assistance is not less than 75% of the eligible cost for emergency measures and permanent restoration.  The grantee, usually the State, determines how the non-federal share (up to 25%) is split with the sub-grantees (eligible applicants).  FEMA guidelines are used to determine if the applicant, facility, work and cost are eligible for coverage under the PA program.

Websites for FEMA and the Offices of Emergency Management in New York and New Jersey provide information for filing an application.  Once the application for FEMA’s PA is made, there will be a kickoff meeting with the FEMA Public Assistance Coordinator.  Following the kickoff meeting the municipality or eligible non-profit should begin to identify projects, estimate costs, and complete a project worksheet for each one.  A project can consist of rebuilding roads, bridges, water control facilities, buildings and equipment, utilities, parks, and other recreational facilities.

The Project Worksheet requires a description of the damage and a list of the damaged locations, with actual or estimated costs.  It is important to be specific about the amount and extent of damage sustained, and to assemble a reasonable cost estimate for the repair and/or replacement of the damaged facility.  Costs include all direct costs including labor, materials, equipment, and contracts awarded for the work.

The Project Worksheet must include the following:

  • List of Damages
  • Procurement Policies
  • Labor Management Contracts
  • Maps
  • Photos
  • List of paid staff, regular and OT hours – dates and times
  • Fringe Benefits info
  • List of equipment used, hours of operation – dates and times, miles driven, other records
  • List of materials and supplies used
  • Copies of any contracts used for this event
  • Applicable codes and standards
  • Hazard Mitigation Proposals

Be aware: There are time limit deadlines for applying for FEMA Public Assistance Grants, for completing the project worksheets, and for completing the work!  The major disaster declaration was made on October 30, 2012.

Entities applying for PA’s must do so within 30 days after the declaration, which is November 29, 2012. 

Project worksheets must be submitted within 60 days of the kickoff meeting – December 29, 2012.

Permanent work (roads, bridges, parks, utilities, etc.) much be completed within 18 months of the declaration date, or May 4, 2014.

While rebuilding may be the furthest thing from mind at this point, it is important to start the process to meet these deadlines. Right now your manpower may be exhausted, stretched thin, and recovering from their personal loses. Consulting engineers, like us here at Walden Associates, want to help rebuild our communities. We have the experience and manpower to help identify projects, prepare project worksheets, estimate costs, design and bid projects, and manage the construction. We’re here to help you recover and rebuild.

Photo Credit: Danielle Manera