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FEMA Public Assistance (PA) FAQs


Email flood recovery or FEMA PA program questions to: ADM.2023floods@Vermont.gov


 

The Vermont Emergency Management division (VEM) of the Vermont Department of Public Safety administers FEMA's Public Assistance Program as the "Recipient" for the State of Vermont. Eligible organizations for the Program, like Vermont's local governments, are considered "subrecipients". VEM is the sole authority and main point of contact for Vermont's subrecipients of Vermont's Public Assistance Program.

If your municipality's roads, bridges, culverts, facilities, etc. sustained damage during the July 2023 flooding major disaster, then it is critical for local officials to do what is necessary to protect their residents' safety. In the days, weeks, and months ahead, emergency response efforts will shift to recovery work that may be eligible for FEMA's Public Assistance Program (PA) funding. To ensure eligibility and to optimize your reimbursement, it is important for you to understand the process and follow the rules — and there are many! Here VLCT's Federal Funding Assistance Program (FFA) answers common questions about this unique federal funding opportunity. The answers below are from trusted sources, like FEMA and Vermont Emergency Management, and cited whenever possible.

VLCT’s Municipal Assistance Center (MAC) has developed a separate FAQs page — 2023 Flood State of Emergency Legal FAQs — to help municipalities understand the scope of their legal authority to manage the ongoing disaster relative to Vermont laws.   

Both FFA's and MAC's FAQs will be updated on an ongoing basis.  

Public Assistance Program | Application for PA | ERAF | PA Procurement | General Questions

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Questions Related to DR-4720-VT and DR-4744

The Incident Period for Disaster Response (DR) 4720 is July 7, 2023 - July 21, 2023. 

The Incident Period for Disaster Response (DR) 4744 is August 3, 2023 - August 5, 2023.

(Source: FEMA: Vermont Severe Storms, Flooding, Landslides, and Mudslides DR-4720-VT and Vermont Severe Storms and Flooding
DR-4744-VT)

  • FEMA will only fund work that is your organization’s legal responsibility, required because of the disaster, and located in Vermont.​ You must be able to demonstrate that you had legal authority for work performed as a result of the flooding.
  • Additionally, all costs must be reasonable, adequately documented, and consistent with your policies, regulations, and procedures​.
  • Please refer to the applicant briefings for details on specific types of costs eligible for FEMA funding. You may also contact the State of Vermont’s FEMA Public Assistance Recovery team at ADM.2023floods@vermont.gov with specific questions. Additionally, your assigned FEMA representative and the State of Vermont’s FEMA Recovery Team will work with you 1:1 to determine eligible costs after your RPA is approved.

No. FEMA Public Assistance does not cover all municipal roads.

FEMA Public Assistance does not cover federal-aid highways. The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Emergency Relief (ER) program covers federal-aid highways. Federal-aid highways are public roads that are classified as arterial, urban collectors, and major rural collectors. You can identify Federal-aid highways in your municipality using VTrans' Vermont Functional Class and Federal Aid Highways webmap. FHWA's ER program has different rules and requirements than FEMA's PA program. Learn more at https://www.vlct.org/resource/fhwa-emergency-relief-er-program-federal-aid-highways

FEMA Public Assistance only covers roads that the municipality owns or has legal responsibility for maintaining, Eligible roads must be open to the general public and provide a service to the general public, Damages to the surface of a Class IV road or bridges and culverts on Class IV roads may not be covered by FEMA. FEMA may request the municipality share road maintenance policies and records to determine eligibility of damages on Class IV road surfaces and structures.

FEMA Public Assistance may not cover roads that are scheduled for repair or replacement. Scheduled repairs or replacement projects that include federal funds may be eligible if the claimed damage did not exist prior to the disaster incident. FEMA may review procurement and contract documents to validate eligibility. If damage existed prior to the incident, only the repair of damage caused by the incident is eligible. A facility scheduled for replacement within 12 months of the start of the incident period using Federal funds is ineligible. In such a case, the Applicant should coordinate with the agency funding the project to expedite replacement, if possible.

When in doubt about eligibility of a road for FEMA Public Assistance, a municipality should include the road damages in its FEMA PA worksheet and discuss the damages with FEMA representatives.

  • FEMA determines applicant eligibility at the RPA stage before evaluating a reimbursement claim. It is important to identify your applicant type because it determines what you will need to do prior to utilizing FEMA funding.
  • State and Local Governments are eligible FEMA applicants. You must apply for insurance coverage (if applicable) before utilizing FEMA funding.​
  • Some Private Non-Profits (PNPs) are eligible FEMA applicants:
    • Critical PNP’s include education, utility, emergency, or medical organizations. (Please also see FAQ: What types of PNPs are eligible for PA?). You must apply for insurance coverage before utilizing FEMA funding. 
    • Non-critical but essential PNP’s may include a number of organizations such as libraries, houses of worship, and community organizations. A full list is available in the PAPPG V4 Page 45. You must apply for insurance coverage and submit an SBA loan application prior to requesting FEMA funding.

​​​​​​A pre-disaster “personnel policy,” “employee handbook,” “labor policy,” or “pay policy” can be all be synonymous titles for the policy that establishes an employee's straight time, overtime, and premium pay structure. A pre-disaster labor policy may also include specific pay structures related to work performed in response and recovery.

​​​​​Yes.  If you have already performed eligible emergency protective measure work or permanent work to repair damaged facilities, then your costs may be included in a FEMA claim after submitting a RPA.

Please note, the minimum threshold to submit a small project for this disaster is $3,800.

  • Your assigned FEMA representative will set up an introductory call in 3-4 weeks following your RPA submission.
  • If you are currently engaged in response or recovery work related to the flood, please continue to do so while documenting the work that is being performed. Costs incurred can be included in a FEMA claim once you have met with your FEMA representative.

No, applicants can submit a RPA (Request for Public Assistance) and begin the FEMA PA process while awaiting any insurance coverage determination. Projects will be adjusted for insurance coverage during the FEMA reimbursement process.

  • For DR-4720-VT the deadline is October 12, 2023.
  • For DR-4744-VT (Addison Co.) the deadline is November 5, 2023.
  • An overview of questions that will be requested during the RPA process is in this video (from minute 4:00 onward).
  • Please note, the minimum threshold to submit a project for this disaster is $3,800.
FEMA Public Assistance Program (aka Public Assistance or PA)

FEMA’s Schedule of Equipment Rates (2021 Rates were in effect on July 9, 2023, the start of the disaster) are for applicant-owned equipment in good mechanical condition, complete with all required attachments. Equipment must be in actual operation performing eligible work for reimbursement to be eligible. Labor costs of the operator are not included in the rates and should be approved separately from equipment costs. You should use the Equipment Rates that were in effect at the time of the disaster declaration; for DR-4720-VT, use 2021 Equipment Rates. 

(Source: FEMA: Schedule of Equipment Rates - use the 2021 Equipment Rates schedule NOT 2023)

In August 2022, FEMA published a final rule to increase the established threshold for Small Project maximum for the agency’s Public Assistance (PA) program to $1,000,000 (Small Project). The increased threshold reduces the administrative burden on state, local, tribal, or territorial (SLTT) governments and private non-profit (PNP) organizations receiving FEMA financial grants following a disaster.* 

The Vermont Department of Public Safety (DPS) is Vermont's "Recipient" of all FEMA Public Assistance dollars - State and municipal.  For municipalities' portion, they "subgrant" these funds.  Although FEMA has set the Small Project maximum at $1,000,000, VT DPS has adopted a lesser threshold per their internal procedures to mitigate risk.  **

Sources: 

*FEMA Policy: Public Assistance Simplified Procedures FEMA Policy FP-104-23-001

**Public Assistance Grant Program Briefing (pages 25 and 39)

Force Account labor is labor performed by non-contracted forces (such as City, County, or State employees).

Yes.

Vermont received a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration on July 14, 2023. Local governments in most counties will be eligible for 75% reimbursement for repairs to roads, bridges, and other infrastructure; local cost share will be 25%. The State of Vermont may contribute towards the local cost share of 25% using the Emergency Relief Assistance Fund (ERAF). State contribution amounts are based on a municipality taking specific steps to reduce flood damage.

Emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities, which MAY* include the following Categories:

A - Debris removal

B - Emergency protective measures

C – Roads and bridges

D – Water control facilities

E – Public Buildings and equipment

F – Public Utilities

G – Parks, recreational and other facilities

Z - Administrative cost

Categories A (debris removal) and B (emergency protective measures – must be completed within 6 months) may be authorized under an emergency declaration. Categories C-G (permanent work – must be completed within 18 months) are authorized under a major disaster declaration. 

(Source: FEMA – How a Disaster Gets Declared, scroll to the section: “ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE UNDER MAJOR DISASTER DECLARATIONS”)

 

*Currently authorized categories for reimbursement and the associated Designated Areas can be found on FEMA's Vermont Severe Storms and Flooding - DR-4720-VT webpage. Be sure to click on the "PDF of Map" button rather than rely on the graphic visible on the site. The visible graphic does not portray the full extent of the declaration. Please be advised the authorized categories may change as FEMA continues to conduct preliminary damage assessments.

The mission of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) Public Assistance (PA) Program is to provide assistance to State, local, Territorial, or Tribal, and local (SLTT) governments, and certain types of private nonprofit (PNP) organizations so that communities can quickly respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies declared by the President. Through the PA Program, FEMA provides supplemental Federal grant assistance for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and the restoration of disaster-damaged, publicly owned facilities and specific facilities of certain PNP organizations. 

The State of Vermont is the “recipient” of Vermont’s PA funding for a presidential declared emergency or disaster.  Vermont Emergency Management (VEM), a division of the Department of Public Safety, is the State entity responsible for administering PA funds in partnership with FEMA.  Eligible Applicants for the Program that received PA funds are considered “subrecipients.” The Program reimburses subrecipients for at least 75 percent of eligible costs that were a result of the disaster.

(Source: FEMA: Public Assistance Program)

Yes. Your municipality's registration with SAM.gov must be active to be eligible for FEMA's Public Assistance Program funding.  

To sign into SAM.gov, you will need a Login.gov account. (Follow instructions here if you don't already have an account.)

Generally: The assistance FEMA provides through its PA Program is subject to a cost share (aka "match," "local match," "local share," "non-federal share"). The cost share ensures local interest and involvement through financial participation. The Federal share is not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs. FEMA may recommend an increase up to 90 percent if actual Federal obligations, excluding administrative costs, meet or exceed a qualifying threshold. 

(Source: Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide Version 4, Chapter 1 Pre-Award Activities, Section IV Presidential Declaration, Item E. Federal Cost Share, page 25.)

FEMA will make contact with your municipality only after your municipality/agency is an Applicant in the Grants Portal and your municipality/agency has attended an Applicant Briefing.  

Only certain PNPs are eligible Applicants. To be an eligible PNP Applicant, the PNP must show that it has:

  • A ruling letter from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service that was in effect as of the declaration date and granted tax exemption under sections 501(c), (d), or (e) of the Internal Revenue Code; or
  • Documentation from the State substantiating it is a non-revenue producing, nonprofit entity organized or doing business under State law.

If the organization is not required to obtain 501(c)(3) status or tax-exempt status under applicable State law, the organization must provide articles of association, bylaws, or other documents indicating that it is an organized entity, and a certification that it is compliant with Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) and State law requirements.

Additionally, prior to determining whether the PNP is eligible, FEMA must first determine whether the PNP owns or operates an eligible facility. For PNPs, an eligible facility is one that provides one of the services listed below (the declared incident must have damaged the facility):

  • A facility that provides a critical service, which is defined as education, utility, emergency, or medical or
  • A facility that provides a noncritical, but essential social service AND provides those services to the general public. PNP facilities generally meet the requirement of serving the general public if ALL of the following conditions are met.
    • Facility use is not limited to any of the following:
      • A certain number of individuals;
      • A defined group of individuals who have a financial interest in the facility, such as a condominium association;
      • Certain classes of individuals; or
      • An unreasonably restrictive geographical area, such as a neighborhood within a community;
    • Facility access is not limited to a specific population (such as those with gates or other security systems intended to restrict public access); and
    • Any membership fees meet all of the following criteria:
      • Are nominal;
      • Are waived when an individual can show inability to pay the fee;
      • Are not of such magnitude to preclude use by a significant portion of the community; and
      • Do not exceed what is appropriate based on other facilities used for similar services.
  • Certain types of facilities, such as senior centers, that restrict access in a manner clearly related to the nature of the facility, are still considered to provide essential social services to the general public.

In cases where the facility provides multiple services, such as a community center, FEMA reviews additional items to determine the primary service that facility provides. Facilities established or primarily used for political, athletic, recreational, vocational, or academic training, conferences, or similar activities are ineligible.

Source:  FEMA PAPPG V4, pages 43 & 44

References

Table 1. PNP Eligible Critical Services, page 45

Table 2. PNP Eligible Noncritical, Essential Social Services, page 46

Table 3. PNP Ineligible Services, page 47

Each year municipalities that have received a federal funds (grants, loans, etc.) are required to submit the Subrecipient Annual Report  (SAR) to the State of Vermont within forty-five (45) days after their fiscal year end.  A municipality is required to have a single audit if it expends $750,000 or more in federal funds during its fiscal year. This federal funding may come directly from the federal government, through the State of Vermont, or through another organization. The municipality's business manager, controller, treasurer or other financial official should compile federal expenditures from all sources and determine if the municipality exceeded the $750,000 threshold. It is for this reason that the Subrecipient Annual Report should be completed by the financial official in your municipality who has access to grant information for the entire organization.

A helpful SAR Frequently Asked Questions page can be found HERE.  Q15 answers the question: when are FEMA Public Assistance funds are considered "expended" relative to triggering a single audit?

According to the August 6, 2013 memo from the US Department of Homeland Security titled, “Audit of Eligible Stafford Act Claimed Costs,” the recording of expenditures related to Stafford Act funds should be based on when the funds are approved (i.e., approval of the Award Worksheet) since that is when FEMA actually obligates funds to such recipient. 

This means that FEMA PA funds are considered to be “expended” when FEMA has obligated funds to a subrecipient based on an approved Project Worksheet, not when the subrecipient incurs the cost. 

The following types of local governments are eligible Applicants:

  • Counties;
  • Municipalities, cities, towns, ;
  • Local public authorities;
  • School districts;
  • Intrastate districts;
  • Councils of governments (regardless of whether incorporated as nonprofit corporations under State law);
  • Regional and interstate government entities;
  • Agencies or instrumentalities of local governments;
  • State recognized Tribes; and
  • Special districts established under State law.

Community Development Districts are special districts that finance, plan, establish, acquire, construct or reconstruct, operate, and maintain systems, facilities, and basic infrastructure within their respective jurisdictions. To be eligible, a Community Development District must own and be legally responsible for maintenance, and operation of an eligible facility that is open to and serves the general public.

The State or a political subdivision of the State may submit applications on behalf of rural communities, unincorporated towns or villages, and other public entities not listed above. 

Source:  FEMA PAPPG V4, pages 42

FEMA PA - Request for Public Assistance (RPA) - Application Process

Applicants who have received a subaward from the Recipient (VEM) and are then bound by the conditions of the award and subaward.

An Applicant is a state, local, tribal or territorial government or private non-profit entity that may request and receive a sub-award under a Recipient's award.

The State, Territorial, or Tribal government that receives and manages the federal award under the disaster declaration and disburses funding to eligible subrecipients.  The "Recipient" for all Vermont's PA funding (state, local governments and certain types of private non-profits) is Vermont Emergency Management (VEM).

 

  • For DR-4720-VT the deadline is October 12, 2023.
  • For DR-4744-VT (Addison Co.) the deadline is November 5, 2023.
  • An overview of questions that will be requested during the RPA process is in this video (from minute 4:00 onward).
  • Please note, the minimum threshold to submit a project for this disaster is $3,800.

If an eligible entity wishes to seek PA funding, it must first submit a Request for Public Assistance (RPAs) to FEMA through the Recipient (VEM).  FEMA accepts RPAs through PA Grants Portal. Prior to submitting RPAs to FEMA, the Recipient (VEM) must review and approve each RPA and provide its assessment of the Applicant’s risk of noncompliance as required by 2 C.F.R. § 200.331(b).

Source: PAPPG, V4, page 36

More information on submitting an RPA can be found on our "FEMA PA - How to Apply" webpage.

An application to the FEMA Public Assistance program funds is called a Request for Public Assistance (RPA).  Application = RPA.

Source: PAPPG, V4, page 36

As soon as possible following the President’s declaration, the Recipient (VEM) conducts briefings for all potential Applicants (local government entities and certain private non-profits [PNPs]). The Recipient (VEM) is responsible for notifying potential Applicants of the date, time, and location of the Applicant Briefing. FEMA attends the Applicant Briefing to support the Recipient (VEM). During these briefings, the Recipient (VEM) provides high-level information regarding the PA Program, such as:

  • Overview of the PA Program delivery process (e.g., PA Grants Portal, application procedures);
  • Program deadlines;
  • General eligibility criteria;
  • Project funding;
  • Hazard mitigation;
  • Alternative Procedures;
  • Compliance requirements (procurement, EHP, and insurance); and
  • Administrative requirements, including documentation and recordkeeping.

To obtain maximum benefit from the information presented at the briefing, a potential Applicant should send representatives from its management, emergency response, public works, and finance department and designate a primary point of contact to interact with the Recipient and FEMA.

Source: PAPPG, V4, page 36

Vermont's Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund (ERAF)

Get a report on what actions your community has taken to qualify for higher levels of post-disaster financial support through ERAF.

(Source: Flood Ready Vermont: Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund)

12.5% - eligible communities have adopted four mitigation measures:

  1. National Flood Insurance Program (participate or have applied);
  2. Town Road and Bridge Standards (adopt standards that meet or exceed the 2013 template in the current: VTrans Orange Book: Handbook for Local Officials);
  3. Local Emergency Management Plan (adopt annually after town meeting and before May 1);
  4. Local Hazard Mitigation Plan - Adopt a FEMA- approved local plan (valid for five years). Or, a draft plan has been submitted to FEMA Region 1 for review.

 

17.5% - eligible communities also:

Protect River Corridors from new encroachment; or, protect their flood hazard areas from new encroachments and participate in the FEMA Community Rating System. ERAF 17.5% Criteria

After a declared disaster the damage to public infrastructure including roads and culverts may approach a million dollars. Here is how the cost of damage will be carried by federal, state, and municipal taxpayers:

 

 

7.5% ERAF Rate

12.5% ERAF Rate

17.5% ERAF Rate

Federal Share

$750,000

$750,000

$750,000

State Share

$75,000

$125,000

$175,000

Municipal Share

$175,000

$125,000

$75,000

Total

$1,000,000

$1,000,000

$1,000,000

 

(Source: Flood Ready Vermont: Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund)

The Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund (ERAF) provides State funding to match FEMA Public Assistance after federally-declared disasters. Eligible public costs are reimbursed by federal taxpayers at 75%. For disasters after October 23, 2014, the State of Vermont will contribute an additional 7.5% toward the costs. For communities that take specific steps to reduce flood damage the State will contribute 12.5% or 17.5% of the total cost.

(Source: Flood Ready Vermont: Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund)

FEMA Public Assistance Program Procurement

Yes.  If the non-state entity is not going to use a competitive process to purchase goods and services, the non-state entity needs to document the reason and for emergency and exigency circumstances, the date those circumstances started and ended.

Steps to Take During Emergency or Exigent Circumstances:

  • Write a justification to describe the emergency or exigent circumstances: Explain why sole-sourcing is necessary based on the specific conditions and circumstances that demonstrate why immediate or urgent action is needed. Include the specific steps taken to determine why full and open competition could not have been used. A separate justification is required for every sole-sourced contract.
  • Provide a brief description of the goods or services: Justify the need for the specific good or service being contracted to address the emergency or exigency circumstance.
  • Estimate the expected dollar amount of the goods or services: A cost or price analysis is required for all procurement transactions above $250,000.
  • Describe any known conflicts of interests and efforts made to identify possible conflicts of interests. If no efforts were made, explain why.
  • Define and justify the period of emergency or exigency for the specific situation: The period of emergency or exigent circumstances may vary per incident.
  • Transition to a competitively bid contract as soon as the emergency or exigent period ends: Failure to plan for transition to a competitively bid contract cannot be the basis for continued use of the emergency or exigency exception.

(Source: FEMA: An Exception to the Rules During Emergency or Exigent Circumstances

In the case of an exigency, there is a need to avoid, prevent, or alleviate serious harm or injury, financial or otherwise, to the applicant, and use of competitive procurements would prevent the urgent action required to address the situation. Thus, a noncompetitive procurement may be appropriate.

(Source: FEMA: An Exception to the Rules During Emergency or Exigent Circumstances)

In the case of an emergency, there is a threat to life, public health or safety, improved property, or some other form of dangerous situation that requires immediate action to alleviate the threat. Emergency conditions are generally more short-lived than exigency circumstances.

(Source: FEMA: An Exception to the Rules During Emergency or Exigent Circumstances)

FEMA used to have a rule allowing towns to contract for up to 70 billable hours of “temporary work” with few contract restrictions.  That rule is no longer in effect.

Federally Assisted Construction Contract: The regulation at 41 C.F.R. § 60-1.3 defines a federally assisted construction contract as:

any agreement or modification thereof between any applicant and a person for construction work which is paid for in whole or in part with funds obtained from the Government or borrowed on the credit of the Government pursuant to any federal program involving a grant, contract, loan, insurance or guarantee, or undertaken pursuant to any federal program involving such grant, contract, loan, insurance, or guarantee, or any application or modification thereof approved by the Government for a grant, contract, loan, insurance, or guarantee under which the applicant itself participates in the construction work.

(Source: FEMA Contract Provisions Guide [June 2021])

The regulation at 41 C.F.R. § 60-1.3 defines construction work as:

the construction, rehabilitation, alteration, conversion, extension, demolition or repair of buildings, highways, or other changes or improvements to real property, including facilities providing utility services. The term also includes the supervision, inspection, and other onsite functions incidental to the actual construction.

(Source: FEMA Contract Provisions Guide [June 2021])

Contract: The regulation at 41 C.F.R. § 60-1.3 defines contract as:

any Government contract or subcontract or any federally assisted construction contract or subcontract.”

(Source: FEMA Contract Provisions Guide [June 2021])

FEMA's Contract Provisions Guide (June 2021) includes not only the required contract provisions but also sample language that can easily be copied and pasted into contracts to make them compliant.  

Note: While FEMA"s Public Assistance program is not subject to provisions of the Build America, Buy America Act (BABAA), work funded through Public Assistance MUST include a contract provision encouraging (not requiring) the contractor to provide a preference for the purchase, acquisition, or use of goods, products or materials produced in the United States. This includes, but is not limited to, iron, aluminum, steel, cement, and other manufactured products. This requirement also must be included in all subawards. FEMA"s Contract Provisions Guide provides suggested language to meet this contract requirement.

Visit our FEMA Public Assistance Program Compliant Contracts page for templates you can use.  

The can be found in the Appendix of the Contract Provisions Guide (June 2021).  They can also be found HERE.

FEMA created an easy to read infographic - Top 10 Procurement Under Grants Mistakes - to help FEMA funding recipients. 

A 4-page Fact Sheet - Purchasing Under a FEMA Award: Common Mistakes to Avoid by Non-State Entities - is also available.  

Information on debris removal can be found HERE.

  You can also refer to FEMA's Debris Removal Guidelines infographic.  FEMA also a Public Assistance Debris Monitoring Guide (March 2021, 58 pages). 

Yes.  Sole-sourcing may be allowed for non-state entities during emergency or exigent circumstances, but they must still follow federal procurement regulations:

  1. Contracts must include the required contract clauses.
  2. Contract must include the federal bonding requirements if the contract is for construction or facility improvement.
  3. Contract must be awarded to a responsible contractor.
  4. Non-state applicant must complete a cost or price analysis to determine that the cost or price of the contract is fair and reasonable.
  5. Contract must not be a cost-plus-percentage-of-cost contract type.
  6. When using a time-and-materials contract, non-state applicants must comply with the applicable rules.
  7. Document any known conflicts of interest and any efforts that were made to identify possible conflicts of interest before the sole-sourced contract was awarded.

(Source: FEMA: An Exception to the Rules During Emergency or Exigent Circumstances)

General Questions

Vermont's disaster number for the July 2023 flood event is DR-4720-VT.  More information about this can be found on FEMA's Vermont Severe Storms and Flooding DR-4720-VT webpage.  

The President can declare a major disaster for any natural event, including any hurricane, tornado, storm, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, or drought, or, regardless of cause, fire, flood, or explosion, that the President determines has caused damage of such severity that it is beyond the combined capabilities of state and local governments to respond.  A major disaster declaration provides a wide range of federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work.

(Source: FEMA How a Disaster Gets Declared)

The President can declare an emergency for any occasion or instance when the President determines federal assistance is needed.  Emergency declarations supplement State and local or Indian tribal 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.  The total amount of assistance provided for in a single emergency may not exceed $5 million. The President shall report to Congress if this amount is exceeded. 

(Source: FEMA How a Disaster Gets Declared)

Emergency: local effects managed with local resources. Examples: transport crashes, local floods, building collapses, etc.
Disaster: Local or regional effects, managed with local or regional resources. National resources may also be used, but damaging effects are not national.

Vermont Emergency Management released guidance about the contents of an H&H Study and when it is (and is not) necessary.  

In brief:

  • An H&H Study is required when a town highway structure conveys a perennial stream. While recommended, an H&H Study is not required for crossings that are not part of the transportation network. Bridge and culvert work on perennial stream crossings must conform with the Vermont statewide DEC Stream Alteration Standard.
  • In the State of Vermont, H&H studies must be conducted by VTrans or by consultants for H&H Studies. Studies must adhere to VTrans hydraulics standards outlined in the 2015 VTrans Hydraulics Manual
Publication Date
08/04/2023