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Introduction to FEMA’s Public Assistance Program

-From the WV Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (DHSEM)

DHSEM website:

Public Assistance is a reimbursement program operated by FEMA that provides federal funding to help communities respond to and recover from disasters. FEMA reimburses state and local governments (and certain types of private nonprofit organizations) for the cost of specific disaster-related expenses.

Under normal program guidelines, Applicants must submit Requests for Public Assistance (RPA’s) within 30 days of the disaster declaration. However, COVID-19 has presented many unique challenges. At present, no hard date has been set as a deadline for RPA’s. Applicants must demonstrate they have the legal responsibility to perform the work and that costs are reasonable, allocable and necessary.

Throughout the Public Assistance process, FEMA reviews eligibility of the applicant, facility, work and cost. Documentation is of paramount importance. FEMA reviews and validates documentation submitted by an Applicant to ensure compliance with federal regulations for: insurance, contracts, procurement policies, permits, etc.

FEMA obligates funds to the Recipient (state) once a project meets Stafford Act eligibility requirements. The state is the official Recipient of FEMA federal assistance funds. The state is then responsible for disbursing the money to Applicants. FEMA may obligate money to reimburse eligible disaster-related costs only after validating that the applicable eligibility criteria are met.

FEMA’s Public Assistance is a cost-sharing program which reimburses applicants at least 75 percent of eligible costs. The remaining 25 percent share is covered by the State of West Virginia (certain state agencies cover their own 25% portion). Once funds are obligated, the state reimburses Applicants directly based upon our policies and procedures.


The President can declare an emergency for any occasion or instance when the President determines federal assistance is needed.  Emergency Declarations supplement state and/or local government efforts in providing emergency services, such as the protection of lives, property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in any part of the United States.

At present, the state of West Virginia sits under an Emergency Declaration (EM3450). Only Category B (emergency protective measures) may be authorized under this Emergency Declaration. Concurrently, a Major Disaster Declaration is being sought by the state. A Major Disaster Declaration provides other federal assistance programs. If our disaster declaration changes, follow-on correspondence and guidance will be sent out.

Grants Portal:

All Requests for Public Assistance (PA) are managed through Grants Portal. Please feel free to email your state PA Program Specialist at [email protected] to set up your account. Numerous agencies and organizations already have accounts in Grants Portal, so please let us know if you would like to check on your behalf prior to creating a new account. We can also resend a link with a new password if you’re not able to login to your existing account.

Training for use in Grants Portal is also available. Dates and times for training will be sent out at a later date.


Included below is a list of documents (.pdf files) that will help guide you through FEMA’s Public Assistance Program as it pertains to the COVID-19 event. They are as follows:

➤ 1. Public Assistance Program Overview – Fact Sheet
➤ 2. Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Eligible Emergency Protective Measures – Fact Sheet
➤ 3. COVID-19 Public Assistance Application Simplification – Memorandum
➤ 4. COVID-19 Public Assistance Simplified Application – Fact Sheet
➤ 5. COVID-19 Emergency Medical Care – Memorandum
➤ 6. COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency Medical Care – Frequently Asked Questions
➤ 7. COVID-19 Pandemic Non-Congregate Sheltering Delegation of Authority Waiver – Memorandum
➤ 8. COVID-19 Pandemic Non-Congregate Sheltering – Frequently Asked Questions
➤ 9. Procurement Under Grants Conducted Under Exigent or Emergency Circumstances – Memorandum
➤ 10. Procurement Under Grants Conducted Under Exigent or Emergency Circumstances – Fact Sheet
➤ 11. Procurement Disaster Assistance Team (PDAT) Contract Provision Template
➤ 12. Procurement Disaster Assistance Team (PDAT) Check List
➤ 13. Procurement Disaster Assistance Team (PDAT) Frequently Asked Questions
➤ 14. Procurement Disaster Assistance Team (PDAT) Key Points to Avoid
➤ 15. Procurement Disaster Assistance Team (PDAT) Top 10 Mistakes
➤ 16. FEMA Examples of Category B Eligible Work
➤ 17. Grants Portal Account and Request for Public Assistance Applicant Quick Guide
➤ 18. FEMA Training Opportunity – Guidance for Procurement During Periods of Emergency or Exigency

Points of Contact:

Public Assistance staff through WV DHSEM is ready to help you through this process. Please bear with us as this is an unprecedented event. FEMA is creating guidance to deal with the unique and challenging nature of COVID-19. Please don’t get overwhelmed and try to digest this information all at once. We will be holding online Applicant Briefings soon to walk you step-by-step through the process.

WV DHSEM Public Assistance general mailbox to setup or check on your Grants Portal account:
email: [email protected]

Susan Kuhn – Public Assistance Program Manager
email: [email protected]  |  phone: 304-552-7039

Ginger Barnett – Public Assistance Program Lead
email: [email protected]  |  phone: 681-313-9803

Jason Means – Public Assistance Grant Specialist
➤ email: [email protected]  |  phone: 304-550-4571

Please let us know when you have questions, comments or concerns about FEMA’s Public Assistance Program, and bear with us as we work through the enormous volume of Applicants applying for Public Assistance across the entire state of West Virginia.

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