Ala. Katrina Debris Removal from Public Property Receives FEMA Funding

September 12, 2005

State and local governments in 22 disaster-declared Alabama counties will be reimbursed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for 100-percent of Hurricane Katrina eligible debris removal costs incurred in the first 60-days after President Bush’s disaster declaration for Alabama on Aug. 29.

The FEMA Public Assistance (PA) program will also reimburse local governments for all approved costs for emergency protective measures, such as police overtime, incurred during the same period. After 60-days PA funding reverts to the standard 75-percent federal, 25-percent non-federal cost-share basis The standard funding formula applies to all hurricane-caused infrastructure damage to roads, flood control works, public buildings and equipment, public utilities, and publicly owned parks and recreation areas from August 29 onwards.

The counties eligible for FEMA Public Assistance (PA) funds are Baldwin, Bibb, Colbert, Choctaw, Clarke, Cullman, Greene, Hale, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Marengo, Marion, Mobile, Monroe, Perry, Pickens, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, Washington, Wilcox and Winston.

Examples of eligible clean-up costs include removal of debris from public rights-of-way to ensure safe passage and debris removal from public property to eliminate health and safety hazards.

Debris removal sometimes becomes a contentious issue since FEMA, by law, cannot pay for debris removed from private property — or private rights-of-way — unless it poses a hazardous or life-threatening situation, and the debris becomes the legal responsibility of an eligible PA applicant. By agreement with local governments, debris brought to a public right-of-way by homeowners can be carted away from the roadside and be tallied in the reimbursement totals.

“We go the extra mile to clearly communicate our reimbursement rules to every state and local government, and certain qualified non-profits, such as some cooperative utilities,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Ron Sherman. Sherman explained that knowing the rules up-front would save many municipalities and local governments from having to pay ineligible costs out of their own pocket.

Debris assessment and removal update:

* FEMA teams have completed preliminary debris assessments in 23 counties.
* FEMA has 20 debris specialists working with local officials to determine how debris in their area will be removed and to provide training and technical assistance.
* FEMA does not hire debris removal contractors. The applicant is responsible for hiring and monitoring contractors, including contacting with the U.S. Corps of Engineers.
* State debris removal specialists will also provide technical assistance for debris eligibility.
* Non-hazardous storm related debris from private property will be picked up at the right-of-way.

Residents, private industry and debris removal contractors may call the National Response Center, 1-800-424-8802, for information and referral on hazardous waste disposal.

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