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September 6, 2011

Re:      Federal Disaster Aid has been approved for all 21 counties

Dear Mayor:

Today, Governor Christie announced that Federal Disaster Aid, individual and public assistance, has been approved for all 21 counties in New Jersey.

There are two types of work eligible for reimbursement through a Public Assistance Grant: emergency work and permanent work.  Each of these work types are further divided into categories based on the action being performed for emergency work, or the type of facility repaired for permanent work.  The categories are:

Emergency Work

  1. Debris RemovalThe clearance, removal and/or disposal of items such as trees, woody debris, sand, mud, silt, gravel, building components, wreckage, vehicles and personal property.  For debris removal to be eligible, the work must be necessary to:
  • Eliminate an immediate threat to lives, public health and safety
  • Eliminate immediate threats of significant damage to improved public or private property
  • 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 and associated appurtenances as needed to convert property acquired through a FEMA hazard mitigation program to uses compatible with open space, recreation, or wetlands management practices

Debris removal from private property is generally not eligible because it is the responsibility of the individual property owner. If property owners move the disaster-related debris to a public right-of-way, the local government may be reimbursed for curbside pickup and disposal for a limited period of time. If the debris on private business and residential property is so widespread that public health, safety, or the economic recovery of the community is threatened, FEMA may fund debris removal from private property, but it must be approved in advance by FEMA.

  1. Emergency Protective Measures:  Actions taken by the municipality before, during, and after a disaster to save lives, protect public health and safety, and prevent damage to improved public and private property.  Emergency communications, emergency access and emergency public transportation costs may also be eligible.

Examples of eligible emergency protective measures are:

  • Warning devices (barricades, signs, and announcements)
  • Search and rescue
  • Security forces (police and guards)
  • Construction of temporary levees
  • Provision of shelters or emergency care
  • Sandbagging
  • Bracing/shoring damaged structures
  • Provision of food, water, ice and other essential needs
  • Emergency repairs
  • Emergency demolition
  • Removal of health and safety hazards

Permanent Work

  1. Road Systems and Bridges:  Roads are eligible for permanent repair or replacement under public assistance unless they are federal-aid roads.  Eligible work includes repairs to surfaces, bases, shoulders, ditches, culverts, low water crossings and other features, such as guardrails.  Damage to the road must be disaster related, not the result of normal deterioration, to be eligible for repair.   Landslides and washouts often affect roads. Earthwork in the vicinity of a road may be eligible, but only if the work is necessary to ensure the structural integrity of the road.  Permanent restoration of a road or bridge that service USACE or NRCS levees and dams, private and commercial roads, and homeowners' association roads or fall under the authority of the Federal Highway Administration is not eligible for public assistance.  For more information on this category please visit
  1. Water Control Facilities:  Water control facilities include dams and reservoirs, levees, lined and unlined engineered drainage channels, shore protective devices, irrigation facilities and pumping facilities.   For more information on this category please visit
  1. Buildings, Contents, and Equipment:  Buildings, including contents such as furnishings and interior systems such as electrical work, are eligible for repair or replacement under the Public Assistance Program.  In addition to contents, FEMA will pay for the replacement of pre-disaster quantities of consumable supplies and inventory.  FEMA will also pay for the replacement of library books and publications.  Removal of mud, silt, or other accumulated debris is eligible, along with any cleaning and painting necessary to restore the building.  If an insurance policy applies to a facility, FEMA will deduct from eligible costs the amount of insurance proceeds, actual or anticipated, before providing funds for restoration of the facility.  FEMA will reduce public assistance grants by the maximum amount of insurance proceeds an Applicant would receive for an insurable building located in an identified floodplain that is not covered by Federal flood insurance. The reduction in eligible costs will be the larger of the two reductions just described.

FEMA may pay for upgrades that are required by certain codes and standards.  Examples include roof bracing installed following a hurricane, seismic upgrades to mitigate damage from earthquakes, and upgrades to meet standards regarding use by the disabled. For repairs, upgrades are limited to damaged elements only.  If a structure must be replaced, the new facility must comply with all applicable codes and standards regardless of the level of FEMA funding.

If a damaged building must be replaced, FEMA has the authority to pay for a building with the same capacity as the original structure.  However, if the standard for space per occupant has changed since the original structure was built, FEMA may pay for an increase in size to comply with that standard while maintaining the same occupant capacity. A Federal or State agency or statute must mandate the increase in space; it cannot be based only on design practices for an industry or profession.

  1. Utilities:  Typical utilities include water treatment plants and delivery systems, power generation and distribution facilities, sewerage collection systems and treatment plants and telecommunication.  For more information on this category please visit
  1. Parks, Recreational, and Other:  Repair and restoration of parks, playgrounds, pools, cemeteries and beaches.  This category is also used for any work or facility that cannot be characterized adequately by Categories A-F.  Eligible publicly owned facilities in this category include playground equipment, swimming pools, bath houses, tennis courts, board docks, piers, picnic tables, and golf courses.  For more information on this category please visit

In addition to public assistance, residents and small businesses are now eligible to apply for different types of federal assistance, including temporary housing, repair, replacement or other needs such as Disaster Unemployment Assistance and Small Business Administration disaster loans.  Survivors of Hurricane Irene who suffered damage should apply for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency – even if they have insurance or aren't sure they are eligible.

Residents and small business can register for assistance by phone at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585 for those with hearing or speech impairments. Specialists are standing by at the toll-free numbers seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time, until further notice. Help in other languages is available.  They can also register online at or by applying through a web-enabled mobile device or smartphone by visiting and following the link to "apply online for federal assistance."

There will be applicant briefings for all 21 counties, which will be coordinated through the State and County OEM to reduce the number of briefings.  In addition, kickoff meetings, which will provide you with specific information for formal preparation of the project worksheets, will be scheduled for each municipality.

Please contact your local OEM Director to coordinate your municipality’s public assistance application.  If you have any questions or need additional information please do not hesitate to contact Lori Buckelew at or 609-695-3481 x112.

Very truly yours,


William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director


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