The FEMA handbook again emphasizes the importance of communication in getting permission for an Alternate Project from FEMA via the state: “FEMA must perform an environmental review and approve all Alternate Projects.”
Also consider the grant reduction that comes with an Alternate Project. There’s a 10% reduction in FEMA funds for Alternate Projects.
It is worth a reminder that the total grant value for an Alternate Project drops significantly when compared to the initial Project Worksheet.
In a typical disaster the federal share is 75% of the eligible amount noted on the [Project Worksheet.] For an Alternate Project, the amount will be capped at 67.5% of the eligible amount (75% of 90%).
Once the funding approach has been determined, the last step is to determine if Hazard Mitigation funding is available under section 406 of the Stafford Act. FEMA requirements are outlined in its handbook:
“Hazard Mitigation, Section 406, is a funding source for cost-effective measures that would reduce or eliminate the threat of future damage to a facility damaged during the disaster. The measures must apply only to the damaged elements of a facility rather than to other, undamaged parts of the facility or to the entire system. For example, if flooding inundates a sanitary sewer and blocks the manholes with sediment, mitigation to prevent the blockage of the damaged manholes in a future event may be considered eligible.
“However, work to improve undamaged manholes using the same method would not be eligible, even though the manholes are part of the same system. Hazard mitigation measures restore a facility beyond its pre-disaster condition. Section 406 mitigation measures are considered part of the total eligible cost of repair, restoration, reconstruction, or replacement of a facility. They are limited to measures of permanent work, and the applicant may not apply mitigation funding to improved or alternate projects or improved projects if a new replacement facility is involved. Upgrades required to meet applicable codes and standards are not ‘mitigation measures’ because measures are part of eligible restoration work.”
Hazard Mitigation strategies are a source of regulation and opportunity; the funds are excluded from some projects (Alternate and Improved) while opening up possibilities for improvements on Standard Projects.
Checking into the potential to accomplish project work using this FEMA resource provides one of the best opportunities for use of federal funds, while at the same time ensuring that the project’s funding is not jeopardized by failing to meet certain administrative requirements. Hazard Mitigation strategies reinforce the need for open communication.
The most crucial elements of successful funding are open communication with the state and FEMA, and controlling the stages of Project Worksheet development to reach the necessary consensus on the project. Contrary to what we often hear in the field, applicants do not have to start with a solid funding plan for the final project, but instead a solid plan for a Standard Project—with the lines of communication open for necessary changes or potential improvements.
With these four project steps properly evaluated, applicants have collected all of the necessary information to implement their funding approach decision.
One of the most crucial elements of funding-approach development remains open communication with the state and FEMA, and controlling the stages of Project Worksheet development.