When we are affected by weather-related damage, it’s reassuring to know that private communities such as ours can rely on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in certain circumstances.
While we must continue to be proactive and adhere to our community’s disaster recovery plan, as well as maintain a contingency fund, we can look to FEMA to help with the following if needed:
- While our state or local government removes the debris or hires contractors to have it done, FEMA may cover costs to remove fallen trees, large branches, silt, sand, mud and building materials from private roadways to create an emergency access and egress in the community. Even debris that homeowners have moved to the curb from their private property is eligible for pick-up in many cases.
- By meeting certain criteria, our community also can claim some of the costs to repair educational, medical, custodial, emergency or other specified utility facilities.
- Since FEMA’s purpose is to “eliminate (any) immediate threat to lives, public health and safety,” severely damaged buildings may also be eligible for removal.
Individual homeowners are still responsible for the costs of cleaning up their yards and repairing their own homes and other private property. But according to FEMA’s Public Assistance Policy Digest, property owners can move disaster-related debris to a public right-of-way, and the local government may be reimbursed for curbside pickup and disposal for a limited period of time. The digest also states that when debris or damage on private business and residential property “is so widespread that public health, safety or the economic recovery of the community is threatened,” with some advance notice, FEMA may fund debris removal from private property.
For details, visit www.fema.gov/pdf/government/grant/pa/pdigest08.pdf.