Be Ready for the Next Disaster - and the Public Assistance Process!


As discussed previously, before-and-after pictures greatly help the eligibility of a damaged facility. Incorporating this procedure in your routine maintenance records will solidify and expedite your retention of disaster funding.

Identifying and Estimating Disaster- Related Damages

Standard operating procedures under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program for providing grants in disasters are in constant flux. To streamline the process and lessen their administrative burden, FEMA, as stewards of taxpayer resources, continually implements changes in how damage is identified and valuated.

Initially, after the grantee requests federal intervention following an event, a joint FEMA, state and applicant Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) is conducted.

If all PA Program criteria are met and a declaration is granted, the first significant meeting with affected sub-grantees will be the applicant’s briefing in which the state discusses the application process, administrative requirements, funding and PA Program eligibility criteria. The next step for the applicant is to submit a Request for Public Assistance (RPA). After review and approval of the RPA, a kickoff meeting (KOM) will be held which starts the assistance process for the applicant. The key deadlines identified at the KOM are 4:

Typically, FEMA will require a comprehensive list of damages accompanied by corresponding estimates of expenditures and repairs. This information and documentation may be requested much earlier in the process, starting with the PDA and RPA. Be sure that all time spent on the documentation of each project is recorded by the person who develops the information. Most of this time is eligible...

Liberty State Park pedestrian bridge destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. FEMA News Photo

Liberty State Park pedestrian bridge replaced after Hurricane Sandy. Fred Gaunt/FEMA