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FEMA Public Assistance Grant Program

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FEMA Public Assistance Grant Program - What is it?

In the wake of disasters, Federal assistance is coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  After a Presidentially-Declared Disaster, FEMA can provide supplemental federal assistance (under the Public Assistance (PA) Grant Program) to states, tribal nations, local governments, and certain private nonprofit organizations (PNPs) to recover as quickly as possible. FEMA may provide eligible applicants (e.g., water/wastewater utilities) with PA grants to reimburse eligible costs associated with repair, replacement, and/or restoration of disaster-damaged facilities.

Applicants may receive funding to restore the facility based on the original design, capacity, and function as it existed immediately prior to the disaster.  However, FEMA is authorized to provide additional payments to repair facilities so that they comply with current regulations, codes, and standards and to mitigate damage from future disasters.  FEMA has four types of projects under the PA Program: small projects, large projects, improved projects, and alternative projects.  Additional detail and level of reimbursement for each type is provided under the subtab Plan Project.

Many water and wastewater utilities have taken advantage of the FEMA PA Program. To build further awareness of the PA Program among the water sector, EPA has developed a brochure targeted to water and wastewater utilities. This brochure, entitled Public Assistance for Water and Wastewater Utilities in Emergencies and Disasters (PDF) provides information about the eligibility of water and wastewater utilities to receive disaster funds under the FEMA PA Program. You can also go to the FEMA PA program profile (PDF) (2 pp, 98K About PDF) or go directly to the FEMA PA website for further information about the current PA program.

Funding/Categories of Eligible Work

What funding is available?

The FEMA PA Program requires matching funds from utility/local and/or state governments. The federal share of assistance is not less than 75% of the eligible cost for emergency measures and permanent restoration. The grantee (usually the state) determines how the non-federal share (up to 25%) is split with the subgrantees (eligible applicants such as utilities). The FEMA PA Program allows some grants obtained from other funding sources to apply as part of the FEMA match grant. For example, a utility could use the funds obtained by the state and grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to contribute to the FEMA matching requirements. Also, the 75% federal and 25% state split could be waived or modified by FEMA on a case by case basis.

What are eligible categories of work under the FEMA Public Assistance Grant Program?

FEMA has divided disaster-related work into two broad categories: emergency work and permanent work. Emergency work is defined as, "that which must be performed to reduce or eliminate an immediate threat to life." Permanent work is defined as, "that which is required to restore a damaged facility through repair or reconstruction, to its pre-disaster design, function, and capacity in accordance with applicable codes and standards." Emergency and permanent work categories are further divided into the seven categories shown below.

FEMA Public Assistance Categories of Work
Category Type of Work
Emergency Work A Debris Removal
B Emergency Protective Measures
Permanent Work C Roads and Bridges
D Water Control Facilities
E Buildings and Equipment
F Utilities
G Parks, Recreational Facilities, and Other Items

Water and wastewater utilities could potentially qualify for grants under Category A (Debris Removal), Category B (Emergency Protective Measures), Category D (Water Control Facilities), Category E (Buildings and Equipment), and Category F (Utilities).

  • Categories A and B address the elimination of immediate threats to life, public health and safety, and improved property. For example, under Category A, FEMA may reimburse costs associated with the removal of disaster-generated debris to permit access to damaged utility systems. Under Category B, costs associated with the provision of temporary generators for facilities that protect health and safety may be reimbursed.

  • Category D (Water Control Facilities) includes the permanent repair of water control facilities, such as those that were built for channel alignment, recreation, navigation, drainage, irrigation, and erosion prevention. It does not include permanent repairs to flood control works and federally funded shore protection measures that are eligible for assistance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Resources Conservation Service. Category E (Buildings and Equipment) covers buildings, structural components, interior systems such as electrical or mechanical work, equipment, and contents furnishings.

  • The most likely category for utilities is Category F (Utilities), which includes the permanent repair of publicly owned water treatment and delivery systems and sewage collection and treatment facilities. The PA Program will generally only pay to return the facility to pre-disaster levels, but there are instances for which upgrades required by certain codes and standards are covered.

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Application Process, Forms, Checklist of Activities

1. How does the FEMA Public Assistance (PA) application process work?

The process for obtaining FEMA Public Assistance Grants is shown below.

Figure A
  1. PDA. A Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) is conducted by state and federal teams to determine whether state and local resources are overwhelmed and supplemental federal assistance is required. For the PDA, utilities should be prepared to answer questions about the status of and damage to the water and wastewater systems.
  2. Governor's Request. If federal assistance is required, the state's governor will issue a request for federal assistance.
  3. Declaration. Based on the governor's request, a Presidential declaration may then be made, with FEMA designating the areas eligible for assistance. Follow this link to determine if a Presidential Disaster Declaration includes your jurisdiction: http://www.fema.gov/news/disasters.fema
  4. Applicant Briefing. After the declaration, applicants (e.g., your local government that represents your interests and/or you) should attend a state-sponsored Applicants' Briefing to receive information about available funding and eligibility requirements.
  5. Submit Request. If appropriate, applicants (e.g., your local government that represents your interests and/or you) should complete and submit to the state a Request for Public Assistance Form within 30 days following the Presidential Disaster Declaration. Upon receipt of the request form from the state, FEMA will assign a Public Assistance Coordinator (PAC) to work with each applicant throughout the disaster recovery period.
  6. Kickoff Meeting. The PAC will meet with each applicant at a kickoff meeting to provide technical assistance and discuss eligibility requirements and project formulation.
  7. Project Formulation. The PAC will then help the applicant to formulate the project, which involves documenting the eligible facility, eligible work, and eligible costs. Applicants must supply FEMA with the documentation necessary to approve the scope of work and the itemized costs prior to funding projects. Applicants should document all damages and costs with pictures, written descriptions and financial records.
  8. Project Review. FEMA will review the project to confirm that expenses are eligible, that worksheets are complete and accurate, and that the project complies with all applicable federal and state regulations and policy.
  9. Obligation, Grantee, Subgrantee. Upon approval, FEMA and the state (grantee) share responsibility for making Public Assistance Grant funds available to the subgrantees (utility). FEMA is responsible for approving projects and making the Federal share of the approved amount available to the grantee through a process called obligation.
  10. Project Closeout, Disaster Closeout. The purpose of closeout is to certify that all recovery work has been completed, appeals have been resolved and all eligible costs have been reimbursed.

2. What type of information may FEMA ask my utility to provide?

Water and wastewater utilities are responsible for identifying damage and providing sufficient data for FEMA to develop an accurate scope of work and cost estimate for any work that may be performed using FEMA funds. It is critical that utilities establish and maintain accurate records of events and expenditures related to disaster recovery work. Documentation that FEMA may request from utilities includes:

  • Photographs of the site, including work that has already been completed;
  • Drawings/sketches/engineering plans of the facility's pre-disaster design;
  • Engineering specifications for repair, such as Department of Public Works (DPW) standard design drawings;
  • Copies of applicable codes and standards;
  • Facility/equipment maintenance records for facilities that require maintenance to ensure proper function;
  • Contracts or contractor bids;
  • Mutual aid agreements;
  • Rental agreements;
  • Receipts/purchase orders for work that has been completed; and
  • Employee timesheets.

Applicants must provide FEMA with sufficient documentation to substantiate requests for funding. Requests for funding are recorded in FEMA forms that summarize the information you have captured previously using your own forms/tracking systems or sample forms.

3. Where are the FEMA application forms located?

Requests for funding are recorded in FEMA applications forms. The FEMA forms summarize the information you have captured previously using your own forms/tracking systems or sample forms. In this case, you transfer the information for your forms/tracking system to the FEMA forms. FEMA forms document labor, materials, equipment used/rented, and contractor support. The FEMA forms are listed below.

Follow this link to access all of the forms for the FEMA PA Program:
http://www.fema.gov/interactive-forms-library.

Follow these links to access particular forms

Note that force account labor specifically used to complete emergency work is reimbursable but only for overtime hours. Regular hours for force account labor are not covered. FEMA will look at your employment policies to determine if certain employees are exempt from overtime - in that case, overtime hours will not be paid.

For equipment, FEMA will reimburse based on FEMA equipment rates. However, FEMA understands that specialty equipment may be needed for certain repair or replacement operations. Therefore, the applicant needs to document the customary rate for such specialty equipment or use another applicable rate schedule (e.g., California Department of Transportation - CalTrans costing).

For specific and current program features, consult the FEMA P-323 Public Assistance Applicant Handbook.

4. What checklist of activities and associated deadlines should I follow to apply for FEMA Public Assistance?
See the Checklist of Activities and Associated Deadlines for FEMA Public Assistance Grant Program (PDF) (2 pp, 117K, About PDF) to get help participating in the PA process.

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Identifying and Assessing Damage

Conducting damage assessments and completing public health and safety reports enables local utility officials to 1) determine the severity and magnitude of the event, 2) quantify the number of customers that are without services and therefore affected by the disaster, 3) determine whether local resources will be sufficient to effectively respond and recover from the event, and 4) identify criticality of water sector systems for public health and safety. There are many schools of thought surrounding how to conduct damage assessments and public health and safety reports, what should be included, and who should participate. Below is general information regarding damage assessments. The answers address the most basic principles of conducting damage assessments. Utilities should check with their State Emergency Management Agency or local jurisdiction to learn more about state-specific requirements related to post-disaster damage assessments.

1. What is a Damage Assessment?

Damage assessment is the process of determining the location, nature and severity of infrastructure damage sustained by the public and private sectors following a disaster incident. It includes the impact on public health and safety and other losses to the community. The damage assessment process is an ongoing effort that is essentially three-phased:

  • The first phase (Initial Damage Assessment/Safety Report) begins immediately after the disaster,
  • The second phase (Preliminary Damage Assessment) occurs just prior to a request for federal assistance if required, and
  • The third phase (Detailed Damage Assessment) takes place if a federal declaration is received.

Local and state officials will use the Initial Damage Assessment and the Preliminary Damage Assessment from the utility to document and quickly substantiate requests for disaster declarations and state and federal assistance. With accurate information, local, state, and federal officials are better able to determine the overall extent of the damage to the affected area. Remember to provide the most accurate estimate possible for damage and manpower to restore services. Likewise, information obtained during the Detailed Damage Assessment process is used to form the initial building blocks of the FEMA Public Assistance process to formulate reimbursement projects to repair/restore operations. When utilities are able to accurately document damage via the detailed damage assessment process, they are better equipped to write substantive project worksheets and secure emergency funding from FEMA and other federal agencies.

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2. What are the Phases of Damage Assessment?

There are three distinct phases associated with the damage assessment process that are implemented after a large-scale disaster. The table below provides details regarding each phase. Click the following link to access a printable copy of Phases of Damage Assessment (PDF) (1 pg, 26K, About PDF).

Phases of Damage Assessment
Phase of Damage Assessment Purpose/ Level of Assessment Timeframe Who Conducts the Assessment? What is Covered? What Optional Forms Can be Used to Provide Pertinent Records?
Initial Damage Assessment and Public Health and Safety Report Quick "back of the envelope" assessment of big picture situation Immediately after disaster (or when safe to do so). 12-24 hours after disaster Technical and non-technical utility staff, in coordination with local government officials and/or local EMA. Forwarded to local and state government. Public and private utilities with a broad focus on percent outages, percent population not served, number of facilities or pump stations out, access to facilities, boil water orders, mutual aid requested, status of repair crews These are not official forms for any particular funding program, but represent good practices from utilities.
Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) Develop costs to justify Presidential declaration and release of federal disaster funds 2-4 days after disaster Team of state/federal officials, but they could request input from utility engineers during visit May be more detailed than an initial assessment, but utility may be asked to verify impacts, provide photo logs, and show damage; immediate expenditures for emergency repairs should also be reviewed See the following website for a list of FEMA PA Forms: http://www.fema.gov/interactive-forms-library
Detailed Damage Assessment Plan and implement emergency and permanent repairs; provides justification for disaster funds After Presidential declaration (if applicable) and before permanent repairs. One week or several weeks after disaster Utility engineers, technical staff, emergency or permanent repair crews Detailed damage information for specific unit components to justify repairs and costs; document cause of impacts See the following website for a list of FEMA PA Forms: http://www.fema.gov/interactive-forms-library

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3. What are Examples of Damage Assessments/Safety Reports

Consider the hypothetical situation of a hurricane in Anytown, USA, during which wind causes damage to an elevated municipal water tank. An Initial Damage Assessment might be conducted as described below.

Disaster in Anytown—Conducting an Initial Damage Assessment
High Winds

Hurricane John came ashore in Anytown at 7:45 a.m. on June 1, 2006. At approximately 3:00 p.m. after the high winds subsided, water utility officials (working in conjunction with local Emergency Operations Center [EOC] officials) began conducting initial damage assessments/safety reports. Utility officials and members of Anytown's damage assessment team began by reviewing monitoring data on the utility's computer systems to determine what percentage of pump stations were offline, the approximate number of service interruptions, type and location of critical care sites affected, and impact of interruption on public health and safety. A damage assessment team visited off-line pump stations and suspected water main breaks to determine if debris removal was needed before repairs could begin, or if the location of the pump station/water main was completely destroyed. This information was then transmitted to the local EOC for its review. The initial damage assessment shows that all residents of Anytown are without water and sewer service, there are several large water main breaks, the water tower that services the city was destroyed during the storm, and the wastewater treatment facility has sustained major damage. All of the information was documented with photologs and on initial damage assessment forms. Public health and safety are at risk.


Below is an example of how a Preliminary Damage Assessment might be conducted after a major disaster:

Disaster in Anytown—Conducting a Preliminary Damage Assessment
High Winds

Hurricane John came ashore in Anytown at 7:45 a.m. on June 1, 2006. Due to the extensive damage and critical utility service interruptions as identified by the Initial Damage Assessments, the local emergency management agency (EMA) has contacted the Governor's office to request state assistance and if needed, federal disaster aid. In response to the request for state aid, the Governor has sent several Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) teams to Anytown to confirm the Initial Damage Assessments and estimate of needed cleanup and recovery efforts. Members of the PDA team have requested that utility officials send a representative that can show them some of the damaged sites and computer monitoring systems to confirm the service interruptions. Since there is a total service interruption, the utility representative provides receipts from emergency water distribution stations that have been established to provide residents with drinking water. The utility representative also provides the PDA team with copies of mutual aid agreements that have been executed to bring in additional emergency repair crews to reduce the length of the current service disruptions.


Below is an example of how to document a Detailed Damage Assessment.

Disaster in Anytown—Conducting a Detailed Damage Assessment
Disaster in Anytown

High winds from Hurricane John impacted Anytown at 7:45 a.m. on June 1, 2006 causing a 100,000 gal elevated water tank serving the municipal water system to collapse. Wind loads on the tank appear to have caused structural failure of the anchor bolts connecting the lower legs to the foundation. The tank was supported by four steel lattice-type legs, each anchored by a single anchor bolt to a concrete foundation. Debris from the falling tank impacted and damaged a pump used to supply water to the tank, 200 ft of aboveground cast iron piping and associated valves, an emergency generator, and 300 ft of perimeter fencing, including a double-wide swing gate. The following specific damages occurred:

  1. Anchor bolts failed on four foundations
  2. Latticework legs supporting elevated water tank collapsed—4 each
  3. 100,000 gal, galvanized steel plate, 28 ft tall x 26 ft diameter, elevated water tank collapsed—1 each
  4. 150 hp, 4,000 gpm pump and associated electrical power to supply water to the elevated tank damaged by falling debris—1 each
  5. Cast iron piping and associated valves connected to water tank damaged by falling debris—200 lf
  6. 100 kW diesel fueled emergency generator damaged by falling debris—1 each
  7. 8 ft high, 6 gauge chain link fencing damaged by falling debris—30 lf
  8. 5 ft high x 20 ft wide opening, double-wide swing gate damaged by falling debris—1 each

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Planning for Repairs - Project Formulation

1. Need help? Turn to your FEMA Public Assistance Coordinator and Project Specialist!

Utility personnel should work with various staff with FEMA’s Public Assistance Program to develop projects to repair/replace the damage. The affected utility brings the expertise in restoring operations at the utility. The FEMA Public Assistance Coordinator (PAC) works with the utility to develop possible projects including those to mitigate future damage. The PA Project Specialist works with the utility to prepare the specific project worksheets for large projects. This includes helping the utility to document damage, estimate costs, develop work scope, and identify issues, such as insurance coverage, environmental hazards, and historic buildings, all of which require special attention. The FEMA PA staff work in partnership with a subgrantee (e.g., affected utility) from disaster declaration through funding approval. In addition to FEMA PA staff, utilities should contact their State Emergency Management Agency early on in the process.

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2. Will FEMA only fund projects to restore the utility to the pre-disaster function and capacity or will FEMA fund alternative projects or those that improve the facility?

The four types of projects that can be funded within FEMA’s Public Assistance Grant Program include:

  • Small Project: Project with a cost estimate of less than $60,900 (FY 2008). This cost threshold is updated at the beginning of each fiscal year. Funds for small projects are available as soon as the Project Worksheet is approved. Please note that for small projects, the funding amount is fixed. The funding split is minimum 75% federal and maximum 25% state/local/private non-profit.

  • Large Project: Project with a cost estimate greater than or equal to $60,900 (FY 2008). This cost threshold is updated at the beginning of each fiscal year. All large projects are funded based on actual costs to complete the eligible scope of work. The funding split is minimum 75% federal and maximum 25% state/local/private non-profit.

  • Improved Project: Any project (large or small) where the applicant chooses to make facility improvements while still restoring the facility to its pre-disaster function and capacity. The funding for improved projects is limited to either the federal share of the estimated cost of the original project or the actual cost of completing the project, whichever is less. An example of an improved utility project would be if a certain water pipeline was destroyed by a flood event and the utility (applicant) decided to build a larger capacity pipeline to handle residential/commercial growth. In this example, FEMA funding would be limited to reimbursing the costs associated with repairing/replacing the damaged pipeline section to the original water flow capacity.

  • Alternate Project: This type of project can result when a facility that was damaged during a disaster is no longer needed, or the public would not benefit from the facility being restored. Alternate projects include repairing or expanding other public facilities, demolition of the original structure and construction of new public facilities, and installing cost-effective hazard mitigation measures, among others. Alternate projects for governmental entities are eligible for 90% of the Federal share of estimated costs to repair the damaged facility to its pre-disaster design, or 90% of the Federal share of the actual costs of completing the alternate projects, whichever is less. For private non-profit utilities, the percentage of the federal share is 75% instead of 90% as previously described. FEMA must approve all alternate projects.

3. How do I formulate a repair project under the FEMA Public Assistance Program?

In FEMA's PA Grant program, project formulation is the process of documenting the damage to a facility, identifying the eligible scope of work, and estimating the costs associated with that scope of work. Project formulation allows applicants to administratively consolidate multiple work items into single projects in order to expedite approval and funding, and to facilitate project management. A project is a logical method of performing work required as a result of the declared incident. More than one damage site may be included in a project. Utilities should note that FEMA or your State Emergency Manager may assist with project formulation for Public Assistance Grants, so utilities are not alone in this process! It is important that utilities understand the project formulation process because they play a critical role in providing the necessary information that FEMA needs to approve and fund projects. FEMA relies on utilities to identify projects for which funding is requested and provide documentation to show eligibility and cost-effectiveness.

All projects submitted to the FEMA PA Program are formulated and documented on Project Worksheets. A Project Worksheet (PW) is the form used to document the scope of work and cost estimate for a project. This form supplies FEMA with the information necessary to approve the scope of work and an itemized cost estimate prior to funding. The approved Project Worksheet will then be the basis for funding under the Public Assistance Grant Program. The major elements that make up a PW are outlined below. For additional information on these elements, see the FEMA document Elements of a Project Worksheet (PDF).

  • Project Description
  • Project Location
  • Description of Damage
  • Project Costs
  • Description of Eligible Work (Scope of Work)

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4. Why are damage assessments important when formulating a project?

Damage assessments are used to determine the magnitude and impact of an incident's damage and are the basis for a disaster declaration and beginning the project formulation process. Therefore, damage assessments need to accurately describe and document damage.

Remember that project formulation is the process of documenting the damage to the facility, identifying the eligible scope of work and estimating the costs associated with that scope of work for each of the applicant's projects. Conducting a damage assessment essentially fulfills the first requirement in the project formulation process. The next step in the process (identifying the eligible scope of work) is based on the description obtained from the damage assessment and essentially identifies the steps that are required to repair/replace the damaged items and return them to pre-disaster condition.

Consider the hypothetical situation of a hurricane in Anytown, USA, during which wind causes damage to an elevated municipal water tank.

Disaster in Anytown—a Detailed Damage Assessment
High Winds

High winds from Hurricane John impacted Anytown at 7:45 a.m. on June 1, 2006 causing a 100,000 gal elevated water tank serving the municipal water system to collapse. Wind loads on the tank appear to have caused structural failure of the anchor bolts connecting the lower legs to the foundation. The tank was supported by four steel lattice-type legs, each anchored by a single anchor bolt to a concrete foundation. Debris from the falling tank impacted and damaged a pump used to supply water to the tank, 200 ft of aboveground cast iron piping and associated valves, an emergency generator, and 300 ft of perimeter fencing, including a double-wide swing gate. The following specific damages occurred:

  1. Anchor bolts failed on four foundations
  2. Latticework legs supporting elevated water tank collapsed—4 each
  3. 100,000 gal, galvanized steel plate, 28 ft tall x 26 ft diameter, elevated water tank collapsed—1 each
  4. 150 hp, 4,000 gpm pump and associated electrical power to supply water to the elevated tank damaged by falling debris—1 each
  5. Cast iron piping and associated valves connected to water tank damaged by falling debris—200 lf
  6. 100 kW diesel fueled emergency generator damaged by falling debris—1 each
  7. 8 ft high, 6 gauge chain link fencing damaged by falling debris—30 lf
  8. 5 ft high x 20 ft wide opening, double-wide swing gate damaged by falling debris—1 each


Disaster in Anytown—Developing a Scope of Work
High Winds

The Scope of Work included on the Project Worksheet for this project would be as follows:

Work completed - None
Work to be completed - Replace (subject to repair vs. replacement rule) and install the following:

  1. Foundations to restore anchor bolts elements—4 each
  2. Latticework legs to support elevated water tank—4 each
  3. 100,000 gal, steel plate, 28 ft tall x 26 ft diameter, elevated water tank—1 each
  4. 150 hp, 4000 gpm pump and associated electrical power to supply water to the elevated tank—1 each
  5. Cast iron piping and associated valves connected to water tank—200 lf
  6. 100 kW diesel fueled emergency generator—1 each
  7. 8 ft high, 6 gauge chain link fencing—30 lf
  8. 5 ft high x 20 ft wide opening, double-wide swing gate—1 each

NOTE: If a repair costs less than 50% of the cost to replace that item, then the applicant is required to repair the item rather than replace it. However, the 50/50 rule has some limited application to water and wastewater utilities in certain instances. For example, if a pipe in a distribution system is damaged, a pipe repair may lead to a weak joint in the system and subsequent problems. Therefore, replacing the pipe will likely be better than patching it. For this reason, replacement may be eligible if the utility can demonstrate a greater benefit for replacement versus repair. For more clarification on this issue, the utility should work with the FEMA Public Assistance Coordinator.

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5. How are costs estimated/calculated for FEMA Public Assistance Grants?

When a utility requests public assistance for disaster-related work, grant amounts are based on actual costs if the work was completed at the time of the request. However, for work that has not been completed at the time of the request, a cost estimate is used.

Typically, these estimates are prepared using unit costs. With this method, the project is broken down into elements based on the quantities of material that must be used to complete the work. For example, a culvert repair may be broken down into linear feet of pipe, cubic yards of fill, and square feet of pavement. The estimate for each of these items is a cost per unit that includes all labor, equipment, and material necessary to install that item (referred to as an "in-place" cost). A method of cost estimating would be to tally the estimated cost of the labor, equipment, and material for the project. Final payments will be based on documentation of payroll information, equipment logs, or usage records, and by other records such as invoices, receipts, or work orders prepared by the utility. This is why proper documentation is so important!

Disaster in Anytown—Developing a Scope of Work Cost Estimate
Disaster in Anytown - SOW Cost Estimate

Continuing with the Anytown example, examine how a cost estimate is obtained for the scope of work outlined in question 3. Begin by placing each item listed in the scope of work into a table similar to the one shown below. Next fill in the unit costs and multiply by the number of units to get the total costs.


Item Units Quantity Unit Cost Total Cost Source of Estimate
Foundations to restore anchor bolts elements EA 4 $5,135.35 $20,541.40 Contractor bid
Latticework legs to support elevated water tank EA 4 $1,500.00 $6,000.00 Vendor pricing
100,000 gal, galvanized steel plate, 28 ft tall x 26 ft diameter, elevated water tank EA 1 $25,789.00 $25,789.00 Vendor pricing
150 hp, 4000 gpm pump EA 1
Cast iron piping and valves LF 200
100 kW diesel-fueled emergency generator EA 1
8 ft high, 6 gauge chain link fencing LF 30
5 ft high x 20 ft wide opening, double-wide swing gate EA 1
TOTAL COST (materials)   $52,330.40  
EA = Each
LF = Linear Feet
     

Utilities should note the source that was used to obtain the unit cost. If you are purchasing from a vendor and are given a volume discount or other type of discount, that number should be broken down into a unit price (divide the total price given by the vendor by the number of units purchased). For instances where a contract is used, rather than listing each item out individually, under the Item column, list "Lump Sum Estimate". List the total cost, and under Source of Estimate, list the contract and attach a copy of the contract so that it can be reviewed by FEMA officials.

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6. How are FEMA equipment rates used to estimate project costs?

FEMA's equipment rates give a unit price per hour for the use of various types of applicant-owned equipment that is commonly used during a disaster event. Having a unit price for applicant-owned equipment makes the calculation of project costs more efficient and standardized.

The costs for using applicant-owned (force account) equipment while conducting eligible work may be claimed on the "as is" basis of equipment rates. These rates typically include operation, insurance, depreciation, fuel, and maintenance, but do not include operation labor. FEMA also recognizes rates developed by both state and local governments on a case-by-case basis as follows:

  • FEMA Rates: FEMA maintains a national schedule of equipment rates for the operating costs associated with force account (utility's own) equipment.
  • State Rates: Applicants using equipment rates established under state guidelines in their normal day-to-day operations may claim state rates up to $75 per hour upon FEMA approval of the cost development methodology. Rates over $75 per hour may be approved by FEMA on a case-by-case basis. Utilities that use state rates should check with their State Emergency Management Agency to determine if state rates have been approved by FEMA.
  • Local Rates: Applicants using rates developed by a local government in its normal day-to-day operations may claim reimbursement based either on the local rates or the FEMA national schedule, whichever is LOWER. If the local rate is lower but the applicant certifies that the local rate does not reflect actual costs, the FEMA rate may be used.

Equipment rates are applied only to the time equipment is actually working. Standby time and idle time are not eligible. FEMA's schedule of rates is updated yearly.

Disaster in Anytown—Using FEMA Equipment Rates
Disaster in Anytown - FEMA Equipment Rates

Continuing with the Anytown example, examine how FEMA equipment rates are used to estimate the cost of equipment that is used to complete the work outlined in question 4. Begin by filling in the description of the equipment that is used to complete the repairs in a table similar to the one shown below. Make sure to include the operator's name, the date the repairs were completed, and the total number of hours worked to complete the repairs. Using the FEMA equipment rates located on the FEMA website at (http://www.fema.gov/schedule-equipment-rates), look up the equipment code that best matches the equipment you have listed. If the exact equipment is not listed (different horsepower or size) then "round up" to the next closest horsepower or class of equipment. Add up the total number of hours that each piece of equipment is used and multiply by the listed rate to obtain the cost associated with using that particular piece of equipment. The completed equipment estimate should resemble the one below.

Type of equipment Operator's Name Dates and hours used each day Costs
Indicate size, capacity, hp, make and model Equipment Code No. Date 6/24 6/25 6/26 6/27 Total Hours Equipment Rate Total Cost
Loader, Wheel, 130 hp, Caterpillar L300 J. Jones Hours 16 8 8 9 41 $20.00 $820.00
Auger, Truck Mntd 8063 J. Smith Hours 16       16 $29.00 $464.00
Crane 8502 H. Williams Hours 16 8 9 9 42 $95.00 $3,990.00
Truck, Flatbed 8703   Hours   8 9 9 26 $43.00 $1,118.00
Total Equipment Costs   $6,392.00

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FEMA's Cost-Effective Mitigation for Water and Wastewater Utilities

Under the PA Program, FEMA may reimburse utilities for particular cost-effective hazard mitigation actions to prevent the reoccurrence of the damage. Hazard Mitigation Funding under Section 406 authorizes mitigation measures that FEMA determines are cost-effective. For water and wastewater treatment plants, these measures include elevation of equipment and controls that can be easily accomplished and flood-proofing of buildings. For raw water intakes, cost-effective measures include buttressing to prevent damage from erosion, scouring and flood debris.
A complete list of mitigation measures for water/wastewater utilities that are pre-determined by FEMA to be cost-effective is provided at the link Mitigation Projects Considered Cost-Effective by FEMA for Water/Wastewater Utilities (PDF) (1 pg, 17K, About PDF) , or review FEMA Disaster Assistance Policy 9526.1.

Mitigation Funding

How do I incorporate a mitigation proposal into a FEMA Public Assistance project?

In the course of repair/replacement of post-disaster damage, FEMA, the state, or the grantee/subgrantee (affected utility) may also identify and propose hazard mitigation measures for permanent work projects. Hazard mitigation measures are identified by preparing a Hazard Mitigation Proposal (HMP). The HMP is not a form; it is simply a written description and cost of what it will take to repair documented damage in such a way as to prevent it from happening again. The HMP is submitted with the Project Worksheet and describes in detail the additional work and cost associated with completing the mitigation measure. Hazard mitigation opportunities usually present themselves at sites where damages are repetitive and a simple repair will solve the problem. However, some mitigation opportunities are technically complex and must be thoroughly documented for feasibility. If you would like technical assistance in preparing a HMP or in identifying hazard mitigation measures, contact your FEMA Public Assistance Coordinator (PAC).

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Keys to Participating, Lessons Learned from Utilities, and Getting Funding Faster

1. How can utilities prepare to take advantage of FEMA's PA Grant Program?

There are many activities that water and wastewater utilities can do when preparing to participate in FEMA's PA Grant Program.

Partnerships. One critical activity is to coordinate with key partners (e.g., state and local government emergency management or primacy agencies) that may be connected into these disaster funding programs. You will need to work closely with your state and/or tribal officials to coordinate on submitting applications and obtaining funds or technical assistance. For example, after a Presidentially-Declared emergency or major disaster in your area, FEMA and the states assign staff to help you understand and navigate the PA program.

Training. Consider completing training on the PA Program. FEMA's Emergency Management Institute (EMI) offers several free, on-line training courses:

Procedures. Water and wastewater utilities should incorporate PA procedures into their emergency response/recovery plan or business continuity plans. Also, utilities have suggested that water and wastewater utilities conduct exercises to specifically practice the ability of utility departments (e.g., accounting/payroll department) to participate in the PA Grant Program.

Recordkeeping. Water and wastewater utilities that have participated in the PA Grant Program have stressed the importance of recordkeeping and coordinating with accounting departments. Every attempt should be made to involve departments (e.g., accounting/payroll) that conduct recordkeeping for submitting an application to FEMA's PA Grant Program. Set up basic protocols or procedures, such as establishing a project number specific to a disaster, tracking labor hours (e.g., overtime) and matching them with forms used with the PA Grant Program. Incorporate recordkeeping and purchasing procedures into your emergency response plan or business continuity plan. EPA has published a fact sheet, Reimbursement Tips for Water Sector Emergency Response and Recovery (PDF) Top of page

2. What advice/lessons learned do other utilities have in participating in FEMA's PA Grant Program?

Utilities have applied and received disaster funding under FEMA's PA Grant Program. EPA gathered advice from these utilities and assembled it in the brochure, Lesson Learned from Water/Wastewater Utilities that Participated in FEMA's Public Assistance Program (PDF) (2 pp, 398K, About PDF).

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3. How can utilities get disaster funding more quickly?

FEMA's Public Assistance Grant Program generally reimburses applicants for eligible projects upon completion of eligible work. This may mean that you may not get reimbursements for many months after the disaster or your reimbursement may come in installments. In some instances, FEMA is able to obligate and fund projects prior to completion based on the results of a Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA). FEMA's Public Assistance Program has two provisions: immediate needs funding and expedited payments that could be used by utilities for their public health mission.

  • Immediate Needs Funding (PDF) is intended to meet an applicant's urgent needs in the initial aftermath of a disaster. Upon request by the state, FEMA can provide these funds for work an applicant must perform immediately and pay for within the first 60 days after the disaster declaration. The funding is available for emergency work only (Categories A & B); it cannot be used to complete permanent repairs. Eligible activities typically include debris removal, emergency protective measures, and removal of health and safety hazards. The funding may be used to cover such costs as overtime payroll, equipment costs, materials purchases, and contracts when these costs are incurred for emergency work.

  • Expedited Payments are made for applicants who participated in the PDA and who have applied for public assistance. FEMA will obligate 50% of the federal share of the estimated cost of work under Category A within 60 days of the initial estimate and no later than 90 days after the Request for Public Assistance was submitted. The payments will need to be reconciled with actual costs. Remember, once FEMA obligates funds to the state for payment, the state is responsible for the payment schedules to the applicant for the work conducted. Payments to utilities should be coordinated with the state.

Remember, that states, not FEMA, ultimately have control over the payment schedules for the work conducted. Payments to utilities should be coordinated with the state. For more information about expedited FEMA financial assistance, please contact your State Emergency Management Agency.

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