Following the national emergency declaration by President Trump and the State emergency declaration by Governor Dewine, the EMA office is encouraging all local governments and some private non-profit organizations to immediately begin tracking costs associated with response to COVID-19.

For information regarding the FEMA public assistance program, please visit the following links below. The first link includes the PA program overview and potential forms. The second is a training program that covers emergency protective measures, which most eligible costs will fall under. Below this text is further information from Laura Adcock, Disaster Recovery Specialist with Ohio EMA.

Quick tidbits of the FEMA Public Assistance Program:

Public Assistance is broken into two categories, emergency work and permanent work.

Emergency work is the category in discussion. It is work that is done to save lives, protect public health and safety, protect improved property or lessen or eliminate immediate threat of damage.

Emergency work is broken into 2 categories: A: Debris Removal and B: Emergency Protective Measures. Note: Not all costs will be eligible but it’s important to track all costs immediately to ensure eligibility.

Emergency work focuses on:

Saving lives and protecting public health and safety
Protecting improved property
Emergency protective measures conducted by private nonprofits
Other urgent governmental service

Sample emergency work:

Transporting and pre-positioning equipment and other resources for response
Flood fighting
Emergency Operations Center-related costs
Medical care and transport
Evacuation and sheltering, including that provided by another State, Territorial, or Tribal government
Search and rescue to locate survivors, household pets, and service animals requiring assistance
Security, such as barricades, fencing, or law enforcement
Use or lease of temporary equipment such as generators and pumps for facilities that provide essential community services
Mass mortuary services

Documenting Costs best practices:

Organize documents
Establish tracking mechanisms to provide sufficient data and documentation
Share knowledge with other communities
Identify force account versus contract costs

Supporting Documentation needed for eligible applicants:

Insurance policies
Mutual aid agreements, if applicable
Purchasing/procurement policies
Personnel/payroll policies (including fringe benefits)
Maintenance records

Before I discuss work eligibility and mutual aid, I would like to share a link for obtaining cost documentation forms. All forms have summary sheets in the titles:

Currently, there is no FEMA Public Assistance (PA) declaration for Ohio. When it is declared, it will be an emergency declaration only, limited to FEMA’s Category B – emergency protective measures. Under Category B, FEMA may provide assistance to state and local governments (note not non-profit organizations like volunteer fire departments, Red Cross, United Way, etc.) for the rescue, evacuation, and movement of persons; movement of supplies; and care, shelter, and other essential needs of affected human populations.

We are still waiting on guidance from FEMA on costs associated with emergency measures that fall under their authority, versus the US Department of Health and Human Services. However, we would like to briefly outline two items, work eligibility and mutual aid.

For work to be eligible under the PA program, it must:

Be required as a result of the declared incident;
Be located within the designated area, with the exception of sheltering and evacuation activities; and
Be the legal responsibility of an eligible Applicant

To determine whether the work is required, the emergency protective measure must eliminate or lessen immediate threats to life, public health or safety or to eliminate or lessen immediate threats of significant additional damage to improved public and private property through measures which are cost effective.

So, to sum up, the work must be required to protect public health and safety and in order to be eligible for reimbursement under the PA program, the entity that is legally responsible to protect the public must be the one to incur the costs related to that work.

If you will work with outside jurisdictions to get resources, below is FEMA’s policy on mutual aid. IMAC is an existing mutual agreement between political subdivisions and would fall under FEMA’s eligible mutual aid agreements (if properly implemented per the agreement).