Public Assistance Program
The objective of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Public Assistance (PA) Grant Program is to provide assistance to state, tribal, local governments and certain types of private non-profit organizations so that communities can quickly respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies declared by the president. The State of Florida manages this program as the grantee from FEMA (grantor) for all sub-grants awarded to local eligible jurisdictions and agencies within the State of Florida.
Through the Public Assistance Grant Program, FEMA provides supplemental federal disaster grant assistance for debris removal and emergency protective measures. In addition, grant assistance may be provided for the repair, replacement or restoration of disaster-damaged, publicly-owned facilities and the facilities of certain private non-profit (PNP) organizations. To be eligible for assistance from this grant program, prospective applicants must fill out a Request for Public Assistance (RPA) through the State of Florida Public Assistance Web Portal, www.FloridaPA.org. The FEMA Public Assistance Grant Program also encourages protection of the damaged facilities from future events by providing assistance for hazard mitigation measures during the recovery process. In accordance with the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (PL 93-288), the federal share of assistance is not less than 75% of the eligible cost for emergency measures and permanent restoration.
Declaration and PDA Process
Prior to the Public Assistance Grant Program becoming available, a presidential declaration must be made designating the jurisdictions eligible for Public Assistance. In preparing to request a presidential declaration, the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) will participate in a joint FEMA, state, and local jurisdiction Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) to determine state eligibility for a presidential declaration for the Public Assistance Grant Program. The PDA process assesses the costs associated with Emergency Protective measures, Debris Removal, and Infrastructure Restoration to pre-disaster condition after deductions for insurance and any other federal program payments are made. If the total of these costs for both the affected counties and the state exceed the amount of assistance the state is able to provide, as established by the current fiscal year threshold developed by FEMA based on adjustments to the consumer price index, the incident may then become eligible for a Public Assistance declaration. It is for this reason that all damages must be tabulated to capture the true cost of the incident to the state for consideration by FEMA and the president.
Types of Work
Public Assistance is categorized into two types of work: Emergency and Permanent. The performance period for Emergency Work Public Assistance Grants is normally 180 days after the presidential declaration. The performance period for Permanent Work Public Assistance Grants is normally 18 months after the presidential declaration. The performance period of both of these types of grants can be extended provided an appropriate request for extension is submitted to the state (grantee) by the local jurisdiction or agency (sub-grantee). Requests for extension of performance period are submitted through the FloridaPA.org.
Apply for Public Assistance
To apply for Public Assistance, eligible applicants must be a registered user in FloridaPA.org and submit a Request for Public Assistance (RPA). To receive assistance, all eligible applicants will be required to submit this form through FloridaPA.org within 30 days of a Presidential Disaster Declaration.
For instructions on becoming a registered user in FloridaPA.org, retrieving lost or forgotten login information for current registered users, and instructions for current registered users to submit a RPA, view Submitting a Request for Public Assistance.
Request a Match Reduction, Waiver or Payment Deferral for Public Assistance
Following a Presidential Disaster Declaration, the Federal Emergency Management Agencys (FEMA) Public Assistance (PA) Grant Program provides assistance for qualifying state and local governments by paying part of the costs of rebuilding a communitys damaged infrastructure. FEMA will cover up to 100%, but no less than 75%, of approved project costs. In cases where the PA Program provides less than 100% of the approved project costs, the acceptance of financial assistance on the part of the State is contingent upon a requirement for matching funds. In such cases, the State will provide the entire required match amount for state agencies and one-half of the required match for grants awarded to local governments.
In extreme cases of hardship, eligible subgrantees have the option of applying for a waiver of the required match amount. Per section 252.37(5)(b), Florida Statutes:
The Executive Office of the Governor (EOG) may approve a waiver, subject to the requirement for legislative notice and review under s. 216.177, of all or a portion of the required match for public assistance projects for local governments if the Executive Office of the Governor determines that such a match requirement cannot be provided, or that doing so would impose a documented hardship on the local government, and if the local government applies for the wavier within the first 18 months after the disaster is declared.
Subgrantees may also request a deferral of payment for their required match. In cases where a payment deferral is granted, a schedule for repayment will be developed between the subgrantee and the EOG Office of Policy and Budget.
Requests will be reviewed with consideration to the following:
- Demographics: population size, poverty rate, unemployment rate;
- Storm Impacts: number of storms, severity of impact, non-FEMA reimbursable expenditures; additional hurricane recovery/mitigation funding granted, frequency of prior disasters, other assistance available;
- Tax/Revenue Capacity: millage rate, is the entity at maximum millage, are all utility taxes levied, can millage be increased to cover costs, per capita taxable value, fiscally constrained county,
- Special Designations: financial distress, Rural Area of Critical Economic Concern;
- Financial Information: general fund reserves, revenues and expenditures of the entity, number of months of reserve in general fund, the local match requirement as a percentage of the general fund balance; and
- Other Considerations: unique to the local government.
Subgrantees interested in applying for a waiver or deferral of payment of their local match will need to submit an Application for Disaster Assistance Local Match Reduction or Waiver and Payment Deferral for Public Assistance form and all required documentation listed in the application to:
Executive Office of the Governor
Office of Policy and Budget
The Capitol, Room 1801
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0001
Attn: Mark Kruse, Policy Coordinator
For a copy of the complete guidelines for analyzing and approving applications from local governments requesting a match reduction or waiver and payment deferral, view Request for Waiver of Local Match Following a Disaster.