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



One of the major obstacles in capturing labor costs is the fringe benefit calculation for personnel involved in the disaster response. Fringe benefits are eligible as long as they are part of the applicant’s established policy before the disaster hits. Fringe benefit rates for both regular time and overtime should be calculated for each individual employee. FEMA may want to calculate an average rate to use for all employees of a municipality.

Typically, most response work is done by hourly non-supervisory personnel who usually have a higher overall fringe benefit rate. Establishing an average rate by including lower fringe rates of salaried supervisory personnel will result in a lower rate being attached to the majority of employees who accumulated the most eligible hours of work. For large applicants this may result in the loss of a significant amount of funding on large-scale disasters.

Union and labor contracts should be provided to FEMA. These contracts will identify such eligible expenses as shift differential pay, meals or other additional supplemental expenditures that should be included on a PW.

Inventory for Disaster Damage Reimbursement

An updated inventory of equipment and supplies should be available at all times. Not only will this have budgeting benefits, but if a catastrophic event occurs in which buildings and contents are damaged or destroyed, the time saved in identifying and documenting these items will be diminished, ultimately speeding up the flow of much needed funds. This is especially important for buildings that may be located in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) 1 which are more likely to be affected by flooding.

Compiling a list of contents of a damaged building after a disaster can take months, especially if the only means of accounting for them is by memory. Without proper documentation, having these items included for replacement reimbursement can be very difficult. Having a room- by-room, up-to-date inventory list with purchase documentation readily available will solidify the authenticity of your claim and significantly shorten the time you will have to wait for funding.

“Work performed under contracts for eligible disaster-related projects must meet certain requirements to be considered for reimbursement under the Public Assistance Program.”