Disaster Grants Public Assistance (Presidentially Declared Disasters)

To assist State and local governments in recovering from the devastating effects of disasters by providing assistance for debris removal, emergency protective measures and the repair, restoration, reconstruction or replacement of public facilities or infrastructure damaged or destroyed.

Agency - Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security has three primary missions: Prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America's vulnerability to terrorism and minimize the damage from potential attacks and natural disasters.

Office - See Appendix IV of the Catalog for a listing of addresses for FEMA's Regional Offices.
Website Address


Program Accomplishments

In fiscal year 2007, 63 disasters and 13 emergencies were declared.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Restricted to Presidential-declared disasters or emergencies, such as an earthquake, hurricane, tornado, or wildfire.

Program activates only after issuance of a presidential declaration.

Public Assistance is awarded in the form of cost-shared grants to States, local governments, other political subdivisions such as special districts, federally recognized Indian tribal governments and Alaska Native villages or organizations, and certain eligible Private Non-Profit organizations.

A State is defined as any State of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Marianna Islands, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia.

Following a Presidential declaration, grants may be made for: removal of wreckage and debris from private and public lands; performance of emergency protective measures; emergency transportation assistance; emergency communications; and permanent restoration of eligible facilities.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

State and local governments, other political subdivisions such as a special districts, federally recognized Indian tribal governments, Alaska Native villages or organizations, but not Alaska Native Corporations, and certain Private Non-Profit organizations in designated emergency or major disaster areas.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Eligible work must be required as a result of the disasters; be located in a designated emergency or major disaster area; and be the legal responsibility of the applicant.


Cost will be determined in accordance with FEMA Disaster Assistance Regulations, 44 CFR Part 206 and Part 13, and the FEMA Schedule of Equipment Rates. Grant awards will be determined in accordance with OMB Circulars No. A-102 and No. A-87 for States, local governments and Indian Tribes. Awards made to Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals and other Non-Profit Organizations will be required to follow the requirements of OMB Circulars No. A-110 and No. A-21.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

The State Governor makes a request for a Presidential declaration of an emergency or a major disaster through the FEMA Regional Director.

Requests for assistance must be made by the Governor in accordance with FEMA Disaster Assistance Regulations, 44 CFR 206.36, except as provided in Part 206.35(d) for emergency declarations involving primarily Federal responsibility.

This program is eligible for coverage under E.O.

12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." An applicant should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his or her State for more information on the process the State requires to be followed in applying for assistance.

Application Procedures

A Presidential Disaster or Emergency Declaration must be issued, which is then followed by an application for Public Assistance through the Governor's Authorized Representative to the Regional Director of FEMA.

Award Procedures

Funds are allocated from the President's Disaster Relief Fund for use in a designated emergency or major disaster area. The FEMA Regional Director approves grants from this allocation on the basis of project applications for eligible applicants. States are responsible for distributing funds to applicants. As a condition of receiving assistance under the Stafford Act, applicants are encouraged to take mitigation measures to reduce future losses from natural hazards.


A Request for Assistance must be submitted by the applicant at the Applicants' Briefing or within 30 days of designation of an emergency declaration or major disaster declaration for the Public Assistance Program.


Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Public Law 93-288, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 5121-5206.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

From 1 day to 6 weeks.


Any determination made under the Public Assistance Program may be appealed. All appeals must be made through the State and the appropriate FEMA Regional Office listed in Appendix IV of the Catalog. The appeal deadlines are: 60 days from receipt of notification of the action being appealed.


Not applicable.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

The Federal share of the grant is not less than 75 percent with the State and local governments responsible for the remainder.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

The length of the assistance period varies depending on the type of work or service. Reimbursement for small projects under $60,900 is made based on the Federal estimate of costs. For projects over the $60,900, reimbursement of actual eligible costs is made as the costs are incurred. The $60,900 limit is adjusted annually to reflect the Consumer Price Index. When purchase of insurance is required, the applicant is obliged to maintain the policy for the economic and useful life of the repairs or of the insured property, whichever is the lesser. Also, applicants must comply with Floodplain Management, Hazard Mitigation, Environmental, and Historic Preservation considerations.

Post Assistance Requirements


Progress status reports are required quarterly.


In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133, "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Nonprofit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $500,000 or more in Federal awards will have an audit made for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards is exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133.


Expenditure records and related documents must be retained for 3 years from the date the applicant's project application is closed.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Grants) FY 07 4,959,113,722; FY 08 est $3,124,128,957; and FY 09 est not available.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance


Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

Federal Disaster Assistance Regulations, 44 CFR Part 205 for disasters and emergencies declared prior to November 23, 1988; Federal Disaster Assistance Regulations, 44 CFR Part 206 for disasters declared on or after November 23,1988; "Public Assistance Guide," FEMA 322 (formerly FEMA 286); "Public Assistance Policy Digest," FEMA 321; "Public Assistance Applicant Handbook," FEMA 323. See Public Assistance web page at http://www.fema.gov/government/grant/pa/index.shtm.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

See Appendix IV of the Catalog for a listing of addresses for FEMA's Regional Offices.

Headquarters Office

Department of Homeland Security 245 Murray Lane - Bldg. #410, Washington, DC 20528.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged $50 million to support emergency efforts to contain the threat caused by Ebola in West Africa.

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Edited by: Michael Saunders

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