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Imperial county earthquake recovery spells success as agencies discuss assistance program

Earthquake recovery work includes debris removal and safety of lives
An earthquale of 7.2 magnitude caused major damage to the Imperial Irrigation District: Adam DuBrowa/FEMA 

Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) have wrapped up initial meetings with 31 Public Assistance Program applicants in Imperial County, to discuss recovery needs associated with the April 4 earthquake.

The meetings, called Kickoff Meetings, represent a milestone in the recovery process. They provide applicants for Public Assistance (PA) grants the opportunity to sit down with both FEMA and Cal EMA to discuss in detail disaster related damages and repair strategies. They also offer the applicants the opportunity to learn about eligibility requirements and what documentation is necessary to support grant requests.

Among the agencies and organizations from Imperial County having Kickoff Meetings with federal and state officials to discuss PA grants were nine school districts, six cities, five special districts and the county. Two private non-profit organizations were referred to the Small Business Administration following their Kickoff Meetings to apply for low interest loans.

Another critical goal of the Kickoff Meeting is to reaffirm statutory deadlines intended to ensure timely progress toward project completion. The next step in the recovery process is project formulation, which documents the damage, identifies the eligible scope of work to repair the disaster caused damage and calculates an estimate of costs for that work.

"These meetings are critical to ensuring eligible agencies and organizations get the assistance and advice they need for a timely recovery in the aftermath of the earthquake," according to Federal Coordinating Officer Sandy Coachman. These meetings also cement the working relationships needed for a smooth recovery.

"Getting together with the applicant helps facilitate the reimbursement process by providing everyone - the applicant, Cal EMA and FEMA - a clearer picture of the damages and response costs, including special considerations such as historic and environmental, that could impact recovery," said Cal EMA Secretary Matthew Bettenhausen.

Co-ordination between government agencies and applicants lead to proper utilization of grants

There are two types of work eligible for reimbursement through a PA grant: emergency work and permanent work. Emergency work may include reimbursement for debris removal and emergency actions taken to protect lives or property. Permanent work may include reimbursement for repair of public facilities such as roads, bridges and public buildings to its pre-disaster design, function and capacity.

Eligible applicants include state and local governments, tribal nations and certain private nonprofit (PNP) organizations that provide an essential governmental service. The magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck Easter Sunday is estimated to have caused more than $90 million in damage to public facilities, according to preliminary damage assessments conducted following the quake.

FEMA reimburses successful applicants 75 percent of their approved eligible work. Cal EMA covers an additional 18.75 percent of the eligible costs incurred by city and county agencies and special districts, leaving those applicants to pay 6.25 percent.

A complete list of applicants completing Kickoff Meetings can be obtained by calling the FEMA/Cal EMA news desk at (626) 431-3910. 

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