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Published:December 18th, 2006 09:49 EST
FEMA Deadline Nears To Request Public Assistance

FEMA Deadline Nears To Request Public Assistance

By SOP newswire

ALEXANDRIA, La. -- Public agencies and eligible private nonprofits that intend to apply for U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance grants must submit Request for Public Assistance (RPA) forms by Dec. 22. The grants are available to rebuild infrastructure damaged or destroyed by the severe storms and flooding that occurred between Oct. 16 and Nov. 8.

The Public Assistance Grant Program provides assistance to eligible state agencies, municipal governments and certain eligible private nonprofit organizations for approved disaster-related costs. Eligible costs include debris removal, emergency services, repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, road repair, bridge repair, repair of water control facilities and restoration of buildings, utilities and recreational facilities.

Government agencies, special districts and private nonprofits can file online at the Louisiana Public Assistance Web site at  Applicants may obtain information about the payment status of a project worksheet on the Web site as well.  Applicants can also call 318-619-3141 for additional information.

Under the presidential disaster declaration of Nov. 2 Public Assistance is available to local governments in Beauregard, Calcasieu, Caldwell, Catahoula, Evangeline, Franklin, Grant, Jefferson Davis, LaSalle, Madison, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Richland, Sabine, St. Helena, Vernon and Winn parishes.

The federal share of assistance is no less than 75 percent of the eligible cost for emergency measures and permanent restoration. FEMA has already obligated more than $36,000 in grants to Louisiana through the Public Assistance Program.

When projects are obligated by FEMA, the funds go into an account the state can draw money from through a simple transaction. The state generally receives the funds within 72 hours. It then disperses the money to the agency doing the project. The state may require additional documentation before it releases the money to the local applicant.

The Public Assistance program works with state and local officials to fund recovery measures and the rebuilding of government buildings, roads and bridges, schools, water and sewer plants, recreational facilities owned by government agencies, some facilities owned by nonprofit agencies, and other publicly owned facilities. FEMA can set aside money to bring each project back to its pre-disaster function and capacity, and the state distributes the money. In order for the process to be successful, federal, state and local partners coordinate to draw up project plans, fund these projects and oversee their completion.

FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program.  FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.