After a disaster, it can be challenging for a community to navigate recovery funding from the federal government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance (PA) program and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBGDR) program provide funding to help communities respond to and recover from disasters. The PA program reimburses state and local governments and certain types of nonprofit organizations for the cost of disaster-related debris removal, emergency protective measures to protect life and property, and permanent repair work to damaged or destroyed infrastructure. The CDBG-DR program can help similar applicants fund a range of recovery activities, especially in low-income areas. Though the grant application processes can be long and detailed, the benefits to a community receiving this assistance include local economic recovery support, restoration of damaged public infrastructure, and the opportunity to plan for and incorporate higher resilience.

Helping Communities Nationwide

Many communities are not aware of the various resources and funding available after a disaster, or they lack up-to-date information on the latest allocations and programs. Experienced professionals can help local, county, state, and tribal and territorial governments secure the necessary funding before, during, and after a disaster. The process includes collecting and processing hundreds of financial and operational documents, including invoices, time records, contracts, permits, plans, and surveys; and organizing them to show federal compliance in FEMA-funded projects. Program knowledge helps a community maximize and retain their reimbursement funding. 

Cleaning Up Waterways in New Jersey After Superstorm Sandy

New Jersey was severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012 and is still recovering today. Our team has been working with the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), and previously the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), since 2012 to maximize New Jersey’s reimbursements. We managed and provided FEMA compliance services during the statewide waterway debris removal project. Waterlogged debris included boats, cars, and even houses impacting public health and safety in and around the state channels and bays. Our FEMA support led to more than $100 million in reimbursements for the debris removal effort. Sediment shoaling occurred in navigation channels throughout the state. Following the debris removal process, the function of the channels had to be restored. With more than 100 damaged navigation channels, we assisted the NJDOT over several years, collecting documentation and analyzing program-eligible costs to help the NJDEP submit $15 million in project reimbursement to FEMA. Our team also performed more than 150 Environmental and Historic Preservation (EHP) field inspections to demonstrate federal regulation compliance as a standard component of each project and researched underwater debris prior to channel construction to identify any culturally significant artifacts that could be impacted. We have helped New Jersey locate and log more than 1,500 previously unknown submerged archaeological sites. Our efforts have included support for the NJDOT to develop seven FEMA PA First Appeals, and all seven were awarded in favor of the state.

$40 billion in damages in the state of New York. 9,000 homes are fully repaired.

Rebuilding in New York

Superstorm Sandy caused more than $40 billion in damages in the state of New York, with thousands of homes damaged or destroyed. With funding from the CDBG-DR program, we supported the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery Operations and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and numerous other agencies with the ambitious “Build It Back” initiative. This program has assisted homeowners, landlords, and tenants with assessing storm damage to their properties, estimating rehabilitation costs, and reviewing environmental and historic preservation issues in order to qualify for federal funds. Today, nearly 9,000 homes are fully repaired and many more have been retrofitted to be more resilient to future storms.

Other major recovery programs in New York include the Red Hook Integrated Flood Protection System in Brooklyn, where storm surge flooding impacted thousands of residences and businesses. Directed by the NYCEDC and the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, this project identified measures to reduce flood risks in the community and involved a feasibility study, conceptual design alternatives, and development of the preferred alternative for an integrated flood protection system, including floodwalls and raised roadways. Now in design, the project has received funding from FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. HUD’s CDBG-DR funds have also supported the New York Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR) as the office works to support individuals and small businesses impacted by storm events, including Superstorm Sandy. Our work has included assessing the various technological tools and systems that GOSR has used to manage and monitor grant opportunities and applications. We are also providing policy, administration, and technology-based services to assist GOSR in analyzing all grant awards to date; identifying applications that do not meet CDBG-DR eligibility criteria; and providing overall database and records management, reporting, and case management. Every community has a right to recover program costs and rebuild more resilient communities. Navigating the complex world of grant funding in the aftermath of a disaster can be challenging, and we are proud to assist communities in their recovery, including securing much-needed funds from the federal government