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Public Assistance Program

The Public Assistance program is supplementary federal financial assistance to local and state, special districts, certain private non-profits and federally-recognized Indian tribes from the impact of a disaster. The supplementary funding is no less than 75 percent federal share of the eligible cost to remove debris, provide emergency protective measures and repair or replace damaged public infrastructure. Public assistance does not provide assistance for the direct benefit of individuals, families or businesses.
 
Eligible applicants include special districts (as listed in Oregon Revised Statute 198), school districts, local governments, state agencies, and certain private nonprofits that have incurred cost for response activities and/or have sustained facility damage as a direct result of the event. PNPs are those entities that provide a governmental type service, and have a 501(c), (d) or (e) tax exemption status.
 
The Federal share of assistance is not less than 75 percent of the eligible cost for emergency measures and permanent restoration cost.
 

Process for Public Assistance

When a disaster or emergency occurs, it is the responsibility first of the local community and the state or tribe to respond. However, at times their combined efforts are not sufficient to effectively address the direct results of the most serious events. These situations may call for federal assistance through a major disaster declaration. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a component of the Department of Homeland Security, coordinates the delivery of assistance under the law and provides grants through the public assistance program to help with the extraordinary costs for response and infrastructure recovery.
 
As part of the process to determine if federal assistance through the public assistance program is warranted, an Initial Damage Assessment (IDA) and Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) must occur to determine if the event is beyond the local and state capabilities. There are certain program criteria established and evaluated to determine this through the IDA and PDA process.

Initial Damage Assessment (IDA)

It is anticipated that not all occurrences will result in a requirement for assistance, therefore the state or tribal government will be expected to verify their initial information in some manner before requesting a Joint PDA. This initial verification is called the Initial Damage Assessment.
 
In order to prepare and evaluate for possible federal supplementary assistance, an understanding of the evaluation criteria for the Public Assistance program (44 CFR 206.48), is fundamental. Each program has its own criteria based on the extent of damages, and the state and local government’s ability to respond.
 
It is the responsibility of the county emergency manager to notify potential applicants within their jurisdiction and coordinate the IDA effort for their county.
 
Potential applicants include:
  • ­Local governments
  • ­Special districts (irrigation, school, utilities)
  • ­Certain private nonprofits (utilities, hospitals, schools)
The county emergency manager or designee will contact all potential applicants within its jurisdiction to complete the IDA. Each department within the jurisdiction must complete their own data collections forms. The county emergency managers should coordinate with state emergency management to discuss the type of assessment that is needed and timelines and to coordinate damage reporting.
 
Forms and Guidance Resources

Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA)

The State summarizes the damages and impacts provided by the counties affected by the emergency or disaster. If certain criteria have been met, the state will request a FEMA Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment. The primary purpose of the Joint PDA is to identify and evaluate the magnitude and severity of a disaster, and use the results to determine whether supplemental federal assistance is necessary. This information is included in the governor’s request in order to show that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and local governments, and that Federal assistance is necessary.
 
 

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