Public assistance program provides financial assistance for
disaster recovery

FEMA Public assistance program provides federal grants  FOR emergency RESPONSES & protections

FEMA Public assistance program PROVIDES federal grants FOR EMERGENCY SHELTERING & HOUSING

FEMA Public assistance program provides federal grants for repairs to roads & bridges & INFRASTRUCTURE

FEMA Public assistance program PROVIDES Federal grants FOR

FEMA Public assistance program provides federal grants for
repair & replacement of buildings & OTHER ASSETS

FEMA Public assistance program PROVIDES  federal grants FOR DECLARED WILDFIRES


  • Costs are direct result of declared event and tied directly to declared event;
  • Applicant has legal responsibility for costs at the time of the disaster;
  • Costs are  not within the specific authority of another Federal program
  • Costs occurred within the designated disaster area, except host sheltering in outside areas
  • Costs incurred during authorized disaster incident period and approved work completion times
  • No assistance will be provided to an applicant for damages caused by its own negligence.
  • Eligible work must be completed during statutory timelines unless time extensions granted

44 CFR 206.223 General work eligibility.

(a)     General. To be eligible for financial assistance, an item of work must:

(1)     Be required as the result of the emergency or major disaster event;

(2)     Be located within the designated area of a major disaster or emergency declaration, except that sheltering and evacuation activitiesmay be located outside the designated area; and

(3)     Be the legal responsibility of an eligible applicant.

(b)     Private nonprofit facilities. To be eligible, all private nonprofit facilities must be owned and operated by an organization meeting the definition of a private nonprofit organization [see § 206.221(f)].

(c)     Public entities. Facilities belonging to a public entity may be eligible for assistance when the application is submitted through the State or a political subdivision of the State.

(d)     Facilities serving a rural community or unincorporated town or village. To be eligible for assistance, a facility not owned by an eligible applicant, as defined in § 206.222, must be owned by a private nonprofit organization; and provide an essential governmental service to the general public. Applications for these facilities must be submitted through a State or political subdivision of the State.

(e)     Negligence. No assistance will be provided to an applicant for damages caused by its own negligence. If negligence by another party results in damages, assistance may be provided, but will be conditioned on agreement by the applicant to cooperate with FEMA in all efforts necessary to recover the cost of such assistance from the negligent party.


  • Eliminates or lessens immediate threats to live, public health or safety; or
  • Eliminates or lessens immediate threats of significant additional damage to improved public property
  • Eliminates or lessens immediate threats of significant additional cost effective damage to private property 
  • FEMA generally requires certification by local State, and/or Federal officials that a threat exists, including local/state emergency declarations for emergency work necessary to cope with the threat.

206.225 Emergency work.

(a)     General.

(1)     Emergency protective measures to save lives, to protect public health and safety, and to protect improved property are eligible.

(2)     In determining whether emergency work is required, the Regional Administrator may require certification by local State, and/orFederal officials that a threat exists, including identification and evaluation of the threat and recommendations of the emergency work necessary to cope with the threat.

(3)     In order to be eligible, emergency protective measures must:

(i)      Eliminate or lessen immediate threats to live, public health or safety; or

(ii)     Eliminate or lessen immediate threats of significant additional damage to improved public or private property throughmeasures which are cost effective.

(b)     Emergency access. An access facility that is not publicly owned or is not the direct responsibility of an eligible applicant for repair or maintenance may be eligible for emergency repairs or replacement provided that emergency repair or replacement of the facility economically eliminates the need for temporary housing. The work will be limited to that necessary for the access to remain passable through events which can be considered an immediate threat. The work must be performed by an eligible applicant and will be subject to cost sharing requirements.

(c)     Emergency communications. Emergency communications necessary for the purpose of carrying out disaster relief functions may be established and may be made available to State and local government officials as deemed appropriate. Such communications are intended to supplement but not replace normal communications that remain operable after a major disaster. FEMA funding for such communications will be discontinued as soon as the needs have been met.

(d)     Emergency public transportation. Emergency public transportation to meet emergency needs and to provide transportation to public places and such other places as necessary for the community to resume its normal pattern of life as soon as possible is eligible. Such transportation is intended to supplement but not replace predisaster transportation facilities that remain operable after a major disaster. FEMA funding for such transportation will be discontinued as soon as the needs have been met.


  • Eliminate an immediate threat to lives or public health and safety
  • Eliminate immediate threats of significant damage to improved public property
  • Eliminate immediate threats of significant damage to private property when measures are cost effective
  • Ensure the economic recovery of the affected community to the benefit of the community-at-large
  • Mitigate the risk to life and property by removing substantially damaged structures

44 CFR 206.224 Debris removal.

(a)     Public interest. Upon determination that debris removal is in the public interest, the Regional Administrator may provide assistance for the removal of debris and wreckage from publicly and privately owned lands and waters. Such removal is in the public interest when it is necessary to:

(1)     Eliminate immediate threats to life, public health, and safety; or

(2)     Eliminate immediate threats of significant damage to improved public or private property; or

(3)     Ensure economic recovery of the affected community to the benefit of the community-at-large; or

(4)     Mitigate the risk to life and property by removing substantially damaged structures and associated appurtenances as needed toconvert property acquired through a FEMA hazard mitigation program to uses compatible with open space, recreation, or wetlands management practices. Such removal must be completed within two years of the declaration date, unless the Assistant Administrator for the Disaster Assistance Directorate extends this period.

(b)     Debris removal from private property. When it is in the public interest for an eligible applicant to remove debris from private property in urban, suburban and rural areas, including large lots, clearance of the living, recreational and working area is eligible except those areas used for crops and livestock or unused areas.

(c)     Assistance to individuals and private organizations. No assistance will be provided directly to an individual or private organization, or to an eligible applicant for reimbursement of an individual or private organization, for the cost of removing debris from their own property. Exceptions to this are those private nonprofit organizations operating eligible facilities.


  • Damages must have incurred during eligible incident period
  • Damages occurred at a facility in active use unless otherwise approved
  • Restoration will only be eligible to the extent necessary to restore the immediate predisaster alternate purpose
  • No other Federal agency has specific authority to restore facilities damaged by declared major disasters.
  • Repair or replacement work that changes predisaster construction of facility must be pre-approved
  • Increased current operating expenses or replacement of lost revenues are not eligible

206.226 Restoration of damaged facilities.

Work to restore eligible facilities on the basis of the design of such facilities as they existed immediately prior to the disaster and in conformity with the following is eligible:

(c)     Private nonprofit facilities. Eligible private nonprofit facilities may receive funding under the following conditions:

(1)     The facility provides critical services, which include power, water (including water provided by an irrigation organization or facility inaccordance with § 206.221(e)(3)), sewer services, wastewater treatment, communications, emergency medical care, fire department services, emergency rescue, and nursing homes; or

(2)     The private nonprofit organization not falling within the criteria of § 206.226(c)(1) has applied for a disaster loan under section 7(b) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C.636(b)) and

(i)      The Small Business Administration has declined the organization's application; or

(ii)     Has eligible damages greater than the maximum amount of the loan for which it is eligible, in which case the excess damagesare eligible for FEMA assistance.

(d)     Standards. For the costs of Federal, State, and local repair or replacement standards which change the predisaster construction of facility to be eligible, the standards must:

(1)     Apply to the type of repair or restoration required;

(Standards may be different for new construction and repair work)

(2)     Be appropriate to the predisaster use of the facility;


(i)      Be found reasonable, in writing, and formally adopted and implemented by the State or local government on or before thedisaster declaration date or be a legal Federal requirement applicable to the type of restoration.

(ii)     This paragraph (d) applies to local governments on January 1, 1999 and to States on January 1, 2000. Until the respective applicability dates, the standards must be in writing and formally adopted by the applicant prior to project approval or be a legal Federal or State requirement applicable to the type of restoration.

(4)     Apply uniformly to all similar types of facilities within the jurisdiction of owner of the facility; and

(5)     For any standard in effect at the time of a disaster, it must have been enforced during the time it was in effect.

(e)     Hazard mitigation. In approving grant assistance for restoration of facilities, the Regional Administrator may require cost effective hazard mitigation measures not required by applicable standards. The cost of any requirements for hazard mitigation placed on restoration projects by FEMA will be an eligible cost for FEMA assistance.

(f)      Repair vs. replacement.

(1)     A facility is considered repairable when disaster damages do not exceed 50 percent of the cost of replacing a facility to itspredisaster condition, and it is feasible to repair the facility so that it can perform the function for which it was being used as well as it did immediately prior to the disaster.

(2)     If a damaged facility is not repairable in accordance with paragraph (f)(1) of this section, approved restorative work may include replacement of the facility. The applicant may elect to perform repairs to the facility, in lieu of replacement, if such work is in conformity with applicable standards. However, eligible costs shall be limited to the less expensive of repairs or replacement.

(3)     An exception to the limitation in paragraph (d)(2) of this section may be allowed for facilities eligible for or on the National Register of Historic Properties. If an applicable standard requires repair in a certain manner, costs associated with that standard will be eligible.

(g)     Relocation.

(1)     The Regional Administrator may approve funding for and require restoration of a destroyed facility at a new location when:

(i)      The facility is and will be subject to repetitive heavy damage;(ii) The approval is not barred by other provisions of title 44 CFR; and

(iii) The overall project, including all costs, is cost effective.

(2)     When relocation is required by the Regional Administrator, eligible work includes land acquisition and ancillary facilities such asroads and utilities, in addition to work normally eligible as part of a facility reconstruction. Demolition and removal of the old facility is also an eligible cost.

(3)     When relocation is required by the Regional Administrator, no future funding for repair or replacement of a facility at the original sitewill be approved, except those facilities which facilitate an open space use in accordance with 44 CFR part 9.

(4)     When relocation is required by the Regional Administrator, and, instead of relocation, the applicant requests approval of analternate project [see § 206.203(d)(2)], eligible costs will be limited to 90 percent of the estimate of restoration at the original location excluding hazard mitigation measures.

(5)     If relocation of a facility is not feasible or cost effective, the Regional Administrator shall disapprove Federal funding for the originallocation when he/she determines in accordance with 44 CFR parts 9, 10, 201, or subpart M of this part 206, that restoration in the original location is not allowed. In such cases, an alternative project may be applied for.

(k)     Restrictions -

(1)     Alternative use facilities. If a facility was being used for purposes other than those for which it was designed, restoration will only be eligible to the extent necessary to restore the immediate predisaster alternate purpose.

(2)     Inactive facilities. Facilities that were not in active use at the time of the disaster are not eligible except in those instances where the facilities were only temporarily inoperative for repairs or remodeling, or where active use by the applicant was firmly established in an approved budget or the owner can demonstrate to FEMA's satisfaction an intent to begin use within a reasonable time.

Permanent Work is that which is required to restore a damaged facility, through repair or restoration, to its pre-disaster design, function, and capacity in accordance with applicable codes and standards. The work is grouped into categories of work.

There are three basic criteria for permanent work:

Design: FEMA provides funds to restore a facility to its pre-disaster design or to a design in accordance with an applicable standard. If a gravel road is washed out during a flood, FEMA cannot provide a grant to replace the gravel with a paved surface.

Function: The facility must perform the same function that it was performing (or designed to perform, if less costly) before the disaster. For example, a school gymnasium is in need of repair after an earthquake. The school district proposes to convert the space into a two-story office complex. Only the repairs to the gym are eligible. FEMA cannot provide a grant for the conversion to office space, except as an alternate project.

Capacity: The restored facility must operate at the capacity available before the disaster. For example, a school designed for 100 students is damaged beyond repair during a hurricane. The eligible replacement facility must be designed for no more than 100 students. FEMA will not reimburse for the cost to build a larger school required due to a greater service area or over-utilization of space. If code dictates a larger area per unit of capacity (e.g., greater square footage per student), only then will FEMA pay to increase the size of the building. A large school with greater student capacity could be requested as an improved project.

FEMA may make exceptions to these criteria for Alternate and Improved Projects (see Alternate Projects and Improved Projects).


Allowable costs must be:

  • Reasonable and necessary to accomplish the work;
  • In compliance with federal, state, and local requirements for competitive procurement;
  • Reduced by applicable credits, such as anticipated insurance proceeds and salvage values.

Whether a cost is reasonable can be established through a competitive procurement process, as well as through:

  • The use of historical documentation for similar work;
  • Average costs for similar work in the area;
  • Published unit costs from national cost estimating databases; and
  • FEMA cost codes, equipment rates, and engineering and design services curves.
  • Contracts awarded for the performance of eligible work must all meet the test of reasonableness;

FEMA will make the final determination as to the reasonableness of cost.

44 CFR 206.228 Allowable costs.

General policies for determining allowable costs are established in2 CFR 200, subpart E. Exceptions to those policies as allowed in 2 CFR 200, subpart E and 2 CFR 200.102 are explained below.

(a)     Eligible direct costs -

(1)     Applicant-owned equipment. Reimbursement for ownership and operation costs of applicant-owned equipment used to perform eligible work shall be provided in accordance with the following guidelines:

(i)      Rates established under State guidelines. In those cases where an applicant uses reasonable rates which have been established or approved under State guidelines, in its normal daily operations, reimbursement for applicant-owned equipment which has an hourly rate of $75 or less shall be based on such rates. Reimbursement for equipment which has an hourly rate in excess of $75 shall be determined on a case by case basis by FEMA.

(ii)     Rates established under local guidelines. Where local guidelines are used to establish equipment rates, reimbursement will be based on those rates or rates in a Schedule of Equipment Rates published by FEMA, whichever is lower. If an applicant certifies that its locally established rates do not reflect actual costs, reimbursement may be based on the FEMA Schedule of Equipment Rates, but the applicant will be expected to provide documentation if requested. If an applicant wishes to claim an equipment rate which exceeds the FEMA Schedule, it must document the basis for that rate and obtain FEMA approval of an alternate rate.

(iii)    No established rates. The FEMA Schedule of Equipment Rates will be the basis for reimbursement in all cases where an applicant does not have established equipment rates.

(2)     Force Account Labor Costs. The straight- or regular-time salaries and benefits of a recipient's or subrecipient's permanently employed personnel are:

(i)      Eligible in calculating the cost of eligible permanent repair, restoration, and replacement of facilities under section 406 of theStafford Act;

(ii)     Eligible, at the Administrator's discretion, in calculating the cost of eligible debris removal work under sections 403(a)(3)(A),502(a)(5), and 407 of the Stafford Act for a period not to exceed 30 consecutive calendar days, provided the recipient's or subrecipient's permanently employed personnel are dedicated solely to eligible debris removal work for any major disaster or emergency declared by the President on or after October 27, 2012, in response to Hurricane Sandy; and

(iii)    Not eligible in calculating the cost of other eligible emergency protective measures under sections 403 and 502 of the StaffordAct, except for those costs associated with host state evacuation and sheltering, as established in § 206.202.

(3)     Administrative and management costs for major disasters and emergencies will be paid in accordance with 44 CFR part 207.

Disaster Financial Management Guide

 Many government and private sector/nonprofit resources and programs are available to help jurisdictions respond and recover. Navigating various eligibility requirements and application processes can pose administrative challenges. Disaster funding or cost reimbursements are often delayed or not approved because of incomplete paperwork, missed steps in the process or a lack of understanding of the eligibility criteria.

The recently released Disaster Financial Management Guide can help a jurisdiction successfully use all available Federal resources for disaster recovery, to include the COVID-19 Supplemental Funding.

The Disaster Financial Management guide identifies the capabilities and activities necessary to prepare and successfully implement disaster financial management while maintaining fiscal responsibility throughout response and recovery operations. It includes guidance for recipients and sub-recipients on:

  • Considerations and practices for tracking, calculating and justifying the cost of an emergency
  • Supporting local reimbursement
  • Avoiding deobligation of grant
  • Effectively funding and implementing recovery projects and priorities

 Although the Disaster Financial Management Guide takes an all-hazards approach and addresses a broad range of issues that jurisdictions face, the concepts, principles and resources it outlines directly apply to the current operational environment and ongoing DISASTER response and recovery efforts.

On the following page, this Fact Sheet briefly summarizes relevant financial management concepts and principles discussed in the Disaster Financial Management Guide.

Financial Management Practices to Use During the DECLARED DISASTER

The following concepts and principles are found in the Disaster Financial Management Guide. Jurisdictions should consider implementing these activities during the ongoing response to, and recovery from declared disaster.

Portfolio and Project Management

Project management entails accurately managing the complex disaster budget to pay all bills, release funding according to schedule and maintain accurate financial records and documents. Portfolio management are the prioritizes and authorizes the group of related projects or programs to achieve a strategic objective.

Knowledge of Procurement and Contract Practices

Jurisdictions must follow Federal procurement under grants and subawarding regulations, as well as applicable state, local, tribal or territorial (SLTT) requirements. Follow the rule that will comply with all applicable layers of rules—sometimes Federal rules are more restrictive; sometimes SLTT rules are.

Document All Expenditures Related to the DECLARED DISASTER Response

Jurisdictions should document every expenditure related to response and recovery, including equipment and materials used, and differentiate them from general operational costs. Using cost eligibility requirements helps jurisdictions justify each expenditure and directly relate it to the declared disaster response and recovery.

Log and Track Time and Expenses

Disaster cost reimbursement requires accurate and detailed records of the time and cost associated with the response actions. Initiating a disaster accounting general ledger is good way to track time and cost.

Compile Cost and Expense Data

To achieve certain thresholds for disaster cost reimbursements, jurisdictions must show proof of cost and impact.

Document Use of Mutual Aid and Volunteer Programs

Jurisdictions must document and track their mutual aid agreements and the cost associated with those response functions.

Continue Documentation Processes

Detailed documentation and accounting requirements should continue throughout response and recovery efforts.

Increase or Adjust Legal Authorities

If applicable, and in consultation with legal counsel, obtain governing body resolution or approval for increased emergency spending authority, contracting or access to a disaster reserve fund.

Manage Positive Cash Flow

Jurisdictions need adequate cash reserves and receivables available that do not exceed expenses.

The KEY ADVICE to all FEMA Public Assistance eligible applicants to ensure they get the FEMA Public Assistance funding they’re entitled to, it’s this:

Document. Document. Document. 

Manage ALL DISASTER expenses by SPECIAL DISASTER SPECIFIC COST TRACKING in your accounting and financial systems and separating the expenses that are straightforward and easy for FEMA to approve from other expenses that may not be addressed clearly in FEMA policy.

Keep every invoice and contract in an Adobe pdf file with a specific FILE NAMING CONVENTION linked to your financial journal transactions

with reference numbers to the accounting ledger codes.

Keeping thorough, specific Adobe pdf (as FEMA requires electronic versions) records of every dollar spent at the local level for preparing for and responding to the DISASTER regardless of which Federal Agency may be available for reimbursement will be critical to reimbursement and use of the FEMA web-based application process.  Also consider these reimbursement tips:

  • Purchase orders for materials and proof of payment and organize by response categories such as medical services, EOC, security, public safety, etc.
  • Payroll records detailing how employees spent BOTH regular, overtime, and detail shifts working on DISASTER RELATED issues and their duties and tasks accomplished. FEMA wants the regular time to validate the eligible overtime.
  • Record of equipment used in response, including police cruisers on directed patrols, public works vehicles setting up barricades and ambulances on COVID-19 related calls. Be sure to include cross references to the drivers.
  • Time-stamped smartphone photographs documenting exactly what your police, fire, public works, health-department, senior-center, and other agency staff were doing where, when, and why to manage FINANCIAL RECOVERY. There are phone applications that record the time and GPS readings and use them.
  • Preserved e-mail and text-message trails documenting all requests for DISASTER RELATED responses that your local agencies fulfilled. Clearly, document all governing body decisions and actions regarding DISASTER RELATED expenses beyond budgeted costs for normal operations such as hazard or premium pay, essential employee  housing and meals, etc.
  • Records of all commercial insurance claim submittals and insurance payments,if any, but all medical insurance recoveries.  It is critical to exhaust all available funding from your insurance provider, as well as available funding from other federal agencies.

Many applicants that have been through natural disasters since 2016 already have experienced FEMA’s new PA Delivery Model, including the Grants Portal System.  This model and system is intended to expedite funding and improve transparency.

However, it can be daunting if you have never been through it before. EVEN if you have, the new FEMA PA Simplified Application protocols will require classic accounting and financial documentation.

While the process is “simplified” it is primarily simplified on the FEMA side and the SAME CLASSIC PROJECT DOCUMENTATION AND ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS WILL BE PART OF THE DOCUMENTATION UPLOADED IN THE GRANTS PORTAL PACKAGES. There are a few exceptions such as small projects under $1,000,000 (fy 2023) and certain in-progress work.

This website  is intended as a national source of information about  the delivery of  financial recovery services. It includes resources on eligibility, procurement, grant management delivery, and issues related to various Federal Programs currently supporting FEMA  Public Assistance program  financial recovery for governments and non-profits. This website is not affiliated or endorsed or sponsored  by  FEMA  or any other Federal grant program. The information provided in various webpage documents is derived largely from Federal  published materials. In general, under section 105 of the Copyright Act, such works are not entitled to domestic copyright protection under U.S. law and are therefore in the public domain.  The goal is to help navigate the various Federal websites and summarize grant information and requirements. It does not constitute legal advice or grant management advise and is provided for general informational purposes only. Only the Federal Agency responsible for grants can make determinations on eligibility and grant amounts. You should consult with your professional services advisors and State and Federal Grant Coordinators for more detailed guidance on specific FEMA Public Assistance financial recovery issues.

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