Public Assistance

In federally-declared disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can provide funding and technical help to state and local governments and certain private, non-profit groups. This funding will help to fix or replace public properties such as roads, bridges, buildings and parks that have been damaged or destroyed.

FEMA also can offer help for emergency protective measures, debris removal, emergency communications and emergency public transportation. In addition, FEMA may make limited loans to local governments that have had a very bad loss from their tax rolls and other revenues because of a disaster.

The Public Assistance program serves as the direct contact between FEMA and the applicant. Repayment is available to all groups and areas meeting the requirements. Trained grant managers help applicants through the repaymen t process. In most cases, federal funding help is made available on a cost-sharing basis.

FEMA normally pays 75 percent of the eligible costs while the local and/or state government pays what is left. In certain cases, the federal cost share may be lowered. This can happen when damaged public places are located in federally-mapped flood zones but are not covered by standard flood insurance.

How to Apply

To get funding under the Public Assistance Program, a possible applicant must:

  • Be a government body — including but not limited to: town, school board, city, police station or state agency,
  • Be a non-profit group — such as a hospital, volunteer fire department, electrical membership corporation, etc.
  • You must have accrued costs from a presidentially-declared disaster equal to or exceeding $1,000.

If you think your group meets these criteria or may be qualified, have an official representative fill out and submit a Request for Public Assistance form by the stated deadline. If this form is not sent in by the deadline and the place is later found to have had major damage, it may be too late to apply.

If you are not able to get Public Assistance funding but feel you may qualify for another program, please contact a member of Virginia Department of Emergency Management or the Small Business Association to figure out what help you may be able to get for your group

Separate Debris

After storms, homeowners should be sure to separate the debris into two piles at the curb: one pile for construction debris, the other for vegetative debris (trees, limbs, etc.).  In many cases, the Virginia Department of Transportation will pick up storm-related debris along state-maintained roads in severely-impacted areas. When such pick up is approved, the VDOT will work with local emergency management officials to determine collection locations and schedules and the public will be notified about debris pickup schedules.

Keep these items in mind while collecting debris for removal:

  • Check your homeowner’s insurance as often debris cleanup is covered by insurance and arrangements for its collection will be handled by the insurance company;
  • VDOT will collect vegetation debris such as trees and limbs, as well as building materials, but they must be separated;
  • Property owners are asked to cut storm-related debris into five- or six-foot pieces, if possible, and place it along the roadway, but out of travel lanes;
  • Major appliances, household hazardous materials such as paint, propane tanks, etc., and other similar materials will not be collected. It is recommended that property owners contact their county emergency management office regarding how to dispose of those items.