Public Assistance


This is information for eligible applicants which include: state and local governments, any other political subdivision of the state, Native American tribes and certain private non-profit (PNP) organizations.

FEMA Public Assistance (PA) is a federal grant program designed to fund the repair, restoration, reconstruction or replacement of eligible public facilities and infrastructure damaged or destroyed in a disaster. The following is a brief overview of the PA process, which can take up to three years to complete.

Eligible Applicants

  • Eligible applicants include: state and local governments, any other political subdivision of the state, Native American tribes and certain private non-profit (PNP) organizations.
  • PNP organizations, facilities and services must meet additional requirements beyond those that apply to governmental applicants.
  • Eligible PNPs include educational, utility, irrigation, emergency, medical, rehabilitation, temporary or permanent custodial care facilities and critical service providers.
  • PNPs providing critical services (power, water – including water provided by an irrigation organization or facility – sewer, wastewater treatment, communications, educational services, and emergency medical care) may apply directly to FEMA for a disaster grant.
  • All other PNPs must first apply to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for a disaster loan. If SBA loans are declined or do not cover all eligible damages, applicants may re-apply for FEMA assistance.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • FEMA is responsible for managing the PA program, approving grants and providing technical assistance to the state and applicants.
  • The state, in most cases, acts as the grantee; the applicant is considered the sub-grantee. FEMA, the state and the applicant are all responsible for grants awarded under the PA program.
  • The state educates potential applicants, works with FEMA to manage the program, and is responsible for implementing and monitoring the grants.
  • Local officials are responsible for identifying damage, providing sufficient data for FEMA to develop an accurate scope and cost of work and approve grants, and managing the projects funded under the PA program.
  • Applicants are responsible for providing receipts and other required documentation (proof of eligible work performed).

PA Funding

  • PA grant money can only be obligated by FEMA after:
  • All required documentation is submitted. The project worksheet is approved by both FEMA and the state.
  • Federal Share
  • The federal share of project cost in most disasters is 75 percent with the state and applicant covering the remaining 25 percent.
  • Funding is broken down into two categories: Small Projects and Large Projects.
  • For Small Projects less than $63,200 payment of the federal share of the estimated cost is made upon project approval with no further accounting to FEMA required.
  • For Large Projects $63,200 and greater payment is made on the basis of actual costs determined after the project is completed.

The Public Assistance Process

  • After a federal disaster declaration is issued by the president, the state, assisted by FEMA, conducts applicant briefings to inform potential applicants about the assistance available and how to apply for it.
  • A request for PA must be filed with the state within 30 days after the area is designated eligible for assistance.
  • A Kickoff Meeting is then held by FEMA with each individual applicant to discuss damages, assess needs and develop a plan of action or project formulation.
  • A combined federal/state/local team proceeds with project formulation. This includes documenting the eligible facility and eligible work and cost for repairing damages. The team then prepares a project worksheet for each project.
  • The applicant is responsible for providing receipts and other required documentation before a project can be approved and funding can be obligated.
  • Upon approval of the project worksheet by FEMA and the state, FEMA obligates funding to the state.
  • The state is responsible for disbursing grant money to the applicant, which takes place after the completion of a contract between the state and the applicant.
  • FEMA will continue to monitor recovery progress to ensure the timely delivery of eligible assistance and compliance with laws and regulations.

PA Timeline

  • Preliminary damage assessment
  • Presidential disaster declaration
  • Applicant briefing
  • Submission of Request for Public Assistance
  • Kickoff meeting
  • Completion of project worksheets
  • Processing of project worksheets
  • Project worksheet approval by the state and FEMA
  • Obligation of funding by FEMA to the state
  • Contract must be in place before payment to the applicant can be made
  • Disbursement of funding from the state to the applicant

Categories of Work

  • Category A: Debris Removal
  • Category B: Emergency Protective Measures
  • Category C: Road Systems and Bridges
  • Category D: Water Control Facilities
  • Category E: Public Buildings and Contents
  • Category F: Public Utilities
  • Category G: Parks, Recreational and other