On January 9, 2023, FEMA released a Simplified Procedures policy for Public Assistance grants to speed up recovery for applicants. Small projects are now defined as those up to $1 million.
The new policy should reduce administrative burdens and enable communities to recover more quickly after presidentially declared events by streamlining documentation requirements.
FEMA conducted a review in 2020. It showed that if a $1 million threshold were applied, 94 percent of projects would be considered small and help put additional recovery dollars in the hands of applicants faster and accelerate closure of projects.
FEMA intends to continue adjusting the threshold annually to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index. It also intends to review the base threshold every three years.
The new policy is not directly aimed at individuals, but at state and local governments and certain types of private nonprofit organizations. Public Assistance grants cover such things as:
Disaster-related debris removal
Emergency protective measures
Repairs to damaged or destroyed infrastructure (i.e., roads).
Depending on repair cost and other factors, the road washout above is an example of the type of project that might benefit from the new policy. However, it’s not clear whether the simplified procedures apply retroactively to damage from past disasters or only future disasters. More details will follow.
Applicant has legal responsibility to perform the work
Cost is reasonable.
Once FEMA and the state review and approve the government agencies’ or nonprofits’ RPAs, applicants work with their FEMA representative to develop a damage inventory.
FEMA obligates funds to the state once a project meets Stafford Act eligibility requirements. The state is the official recipient of FEMA federal assistance. The state is then responsible for disbursing the money to applicants.
FEMA will hold a series of webinars in coming weeks to explain more about the simplified policy. Additional details are not yet available.
Getting aid to people faster after a disaster is necessary. This is a very complex subject. I wish all forms of disaster relief, including hazard mitigation, could be simplified. We’re still waiting on the Harris County, the GLO and HUD to agree on a plan for spending $750 million in mitigation funds related to Hurricane Harvey – 5.5 years after the event!
Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/12/23 based on a FEMA Press Release
1962 Days after Hurricane Harvey
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/20201025-DJI_0919.jpg?fit=1200%2C900&ssl=19001200adminadmin2023-01-12 13:04:432023-01-12 13:20:54FEMA Simplifying Procedures for Small Public Assistance Grants
In March, the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) awarded engineering firm Freese & Nichols a $250,000 work order for “Conceptual Design” of sand traps. Then in June, SJRA applied for a $200,000 grant from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) for “Preliminary Design” of sand traps on the West Fork. What’s this all about? How do the projects relate? Are they worthwhile?
SJRA and HCFCD hope to mitigate flooding by constructing one or more “sand traps.” Their plan calls for partnering with Aggregate Production Operations (APOs) in the vicinity of the sand trap(s) to clean them out periodically. It’s not yet clear whether APO’s would do this for a fee, or do it for the sand. One thing is clear, at this point, however. APO’s don’t want to go far. All the locations under consideration are next to sand mines.
Evaluating potential sand trap locations and trapping effectiveness
Developing conceptual sand trap designs
Determining downstream benefits of potential sand trap solutions
Recommending which site(s) to carry forward into preliminary engineering.
Phase 2 of Pilot Goes Further
The goal: to move forward with preliminary engineering on two sites, with the likely construction of at least one. This small scale effort, involving only one or two sand traps, is intended to act as a “pilot” before a more costly, full-scale program.
Preliminary results in the first phase indicate that the sand traps will likely be located along the West Fork.
However, to move beyond conceptual design, even on the pilot, SJRA needs more money to supplement local match resources.
If successful, the TWDB grant application for preliminary design will cover:
Environmental permitting investigation
Preliminary land acquisition efforts
30% design efforts.
Need for Sediment Control of Some Sort
To date, more than 2.3 million cubic yards of material have been removed from the West Fork, at a cost of more than $90 million. An additional $30 million has been dedicated to continue these efforts. SJRA hopes sand traps will help protect that investment.
It seems, though, that reducing sediment coming out of sand mines might be a simpler, less-risky, more cost-effective solution.
Long-term benefits beyond the initial sand trap development “pilot” project are anticipated to potentially extend beyond the immediate benefit area.
Benefits include potential reduction of sediment load entering Lake Houston.
SJRA can not yet quantify the level of flood mitigation provided by the sand trap(s). However, restoring or expanding storm flow capacity could potentially remove structures from the floodplain, they say. The conceptual design phase currently underway will attempt to evaluate downstream hydraulic benefits.
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sand-Trap-Benefit-Area.jpg?fit=1200%2C1210&ssl=112101200adminadmin2020-07-09 15:26:042020-07-09 15:26:28Details of SJRA Application to TWDB for Grant to Develop Sand Traps
While Harvey had a devastating impact on the area’s residential community, what we’ve not yet come to fully address or understand is the impact Harvey had on small businesses.
44 Percent of Area Small Businesses Affected by Harvey
The Small Business Administration issued more than 3,300 unique identifiers for businesses in the aftermath of Harvey. This represents almost 44 percent of all businesses in the Lake Houston area. While some business devastation was obvious in Humble along I-69, or Town Center and Kings Harbor in Kingwood, a multitude of other low-profile businesses also suffered physical damage and economic loss.
Commercial Area near FM1960 and Atascocita Road looking west toward Lake Houston
There is no FEMA equivalent for small businesses; many were left without help after Harvey. As a result, many small business owners depleted life savings, took out home equity loans or drew down retirement accounts to keep their businesses running. For the many that lost homes as well as businesses, circumstances were even more dire.
Many small business owners depleted life savings, took out home equity loans or drew down retirement accounts to keep their businesses running.
The SBA made a significant positive impact to the area’s small businesses. But not all businesses qualified for a loan and a majority of SBA funding went to residents. Typically, 80 percent goes to residential and 20 percent to small businesses.
Lake Houston Economic Development Partnership Helps Address Gaps
To address this imbalance, the Lake Houston Economic Development Partnership partnered with SBA, LiftFund, Federal Home Loan Bank, Lake Houston Area Relief Fund, Rebuild Texas Fund and several others. Our goal: to help small businesses via zero interest deferred loans, newly developed grant programs, tax credits and disaster recovery assistance.
We cannot meet current demand for all small business assistance. However, we can build long-term support systems to help the Lake Houston Area recover, and to keep it vibrant and growing.
Two small business funding programs have begun to make a significant impact in our area; both focus on accelerating recovery from Harvey.
Zero Interest Loans from LiftFund
First, LiftFund has been a partner of the Lake Houston Economic Development Partnership and Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce since October of 2017. We hosted their first satellite workshop in the chamber offices on November 2, 2017, and have since funded several Lake Houston area businesses with zero interest loans up to $25,000 with a four month deferment period.
The current LiftFund minimum application requirements include a direct physical and or financial impact from Hurricane Harvey, having been in business at least one year prior to Harvey, and the ability to provide other documentation. That documentation includes three months of business and personal bank statements along with the company’s most recently filed tax return. LiftFund’s disaster recovery loan application link is: https://www.liftfund.com/texas-rebuild-initiative/.
Grant Program for Small Businesses
Our second small business funding program launched in March 2018 – the Lake Houston Harvey Small Business Grant Program. It provides grants ranging from $2500 to $5000 for businesses directly impacted by Harvey. It only covers the Lake Houston area – zip codes 770044, 77338, 77339, 77345, 77346 and 77396. Individual companies must have been in business at least a year before Harvey and provide business and personal bank statements along with their most recently filed federal tax return.
Small Businesses Employ 80 Percent of All Employees
Small businesses employ roughly 80 percent of all workers in both Texas and the United States. We must make sure that our recovery includes homes and the life blood of the Lake Houston area, our small businesses. So please, share this information with small business owners you may know so we can help them rebuild and thrive. Let them know that the broader community is working on their behalf.
Posted by Mark Mitchell President, Lake Houston Economic Development Partnership
242 Days since Hurricane Harvey
00adminadmin2018-04-28 16:25:432018-04-29 10:40:08Help for Small Businesses Recovering from Harvey in Lake Houston Area