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Categories of Work

Emergency Work

To facilitate the processing of Public Assistance funding, FEMA separates Emergency Work into two categories and Permanent Work into five categories based on general types of facilities. This area covers each of the categories.  Prior to going over each Category, FEMA’s definition of Emergency Work and Permanent Work follow.  The information contained in this section is meant to be informatory in a general sense.  Further guidance on Emergency Work and Permanent Work, including all seven Categories of Work, can be found in FEMA’s Pubic Assistance Program and Policy Guide.

Emergency Work

Emergency Work (Categories A and B) is work that must be done immediately to:
• Save lives;
• Protect public health and safety;
• Protect improved property; or
• Eliminate or lessen an immediate threat of additional damage.

For Private Non-Profit (PNP) Applicants, eligible Emergency Work is generally limited to that associated with an eligible PNP facility as follows:
• Debris removal from the facility property; and
• Emergency protective measures to prevent damage to the facility and its contents.

Permanent Work

Permanent Work (Categories C–G) is work required to restore a facility to its pre-disaster design and function in accordance with applicable codes and standards. Pre-disaster design means the size or capacity of a facility as originally constructed or subsequently modified.  Pre-disaster function is the function for which the facility was originally designed or subsequently modified.  Depending on the work, some of the following may be required:

• Environmental and historic preservation considerations;
• Obtaining and maintaining insurance;
• Following codes and standards;
• Consideration of hazard mitigation/prevention measures;
• Repair versus replacement;
• Relocation; and/or
• Maximum funding available.

Debris removal activities, such as clearance, removal, and disposal, are eligible if the removal is in the public interest based on whether the work:

• Eliminates immediate threats to lives, public health, and safety;
• Eliminates immediate threats of significant damage to improved public or private property;
• Ensures economic recovery of the affected community to the benefit of the community at large; or
• Mitigates risk to life and property by removing Substantially Damaged structures involved in a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Acquisition Projects.

Debris can include vegetative debris, construction and demolition debris, sand, mud, silt, gravel, rocks, boulders, white goods, and vehicle and vessel wreckage.

Eligible vegetative debris may include tree limbs, branches, stumps, or trees that are still in place, but damaged to the extent they pose an immediate threat.  Pruning, maintenance, trimming, and landscaping are ineligible.  FEMA has specific eligibility criteria and documentation requirements for funding hazardous limbs, trees, and stumps.

Broken Limb or Branch Removal

Removal of broken limbs or branches that are 2 inches or larger in diameter (measured at the point of break) that pose an immediate threat are eligible. An example is a broken limb or branch that is hanging over improved property or public-use areas, such as trails, sidewalks, or playgrounds if it could fall and cause injury or damage to improved property. 

FEMA does not fund removal of broken limbs or branches located on private property unless:

• The limbs or branches extend over the public ROW;
• The limbs or branches pose an immediate threat; and
• The Applicant removes the hazard from the public ROW (without entering private property).

Only the minimum cut necessary to remove the hazard is eligible. For example, cutting a branch at the trunk is ineligible if the threat can be eliminated by cutting it at the closest main branch junction

Tree Removal

FEMA considers incident-damaged trees to be hazardous and eligible if the tree has a diameter of 6 inches or greater measured 4.5 feet above ground level, and the tree:

• Has a split trunk;
• Has a broken canopy; or
• Is leaning at an angle greater than 30 degrees.

Stump Removal

For stumps that have 50 percent or more of the root-ball exposed, removal of the stump and filling the root-ball hole are eligible. If grinding a stump in-place is less costly than extraction, grinding the stump in-place is eligible.

For stumps that have less than 50 percent of the root-ball exposed, FEMA only provides PA funding to flush cut the item at ground level and dispose of the cut portion based on volume or weight. Grinding any residual stump is ineligible.

Debris on Public Rights-of-Way (ROW)

Removal of debris from improved public property and public ROWs, including Federal-aid roads, is eligible. If state or local governments authorize residents to place incident-related debris on public ROWs, FEMA provides PA funding to remove the debris from the ROWs for a limited timeframe.

Removal of debris placed on the public ROWs from commercial properties is ineligible unless it is pre-approved by FEMA. Additionally, removal of materials related to the construction, repair, or renovation of either residential or commercial structures is ineligible.

Ineligible Debris Removal

• Federally maintained navigable channels and waterways;
• Flood control works under the authority of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Flood control works under the specific authority of NRCS are those that are part of the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations (WFPO) Program under PL 83-566;
• Agricultural land; and
• Natural, unimproved land, such as heavily wooded areas and unused areas.

Further clarification can be found in FEMA’s Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide.

Measures taken before, during and after a disaster to eliminate/reduce an immediate threat to life,
public health, or safety, or to eliminate/reduce an immediate threat of significant damage to improved
public and private property through cost‐effective measures.

Saving Lives and Protecting Public Health and Safety

Eligible emergency protective measures that save lives or protect public health or safety can include:

• Transporting and pre-positioning equipment and other resources for response;
• Flood fighting;
• Emergency operating center-related costs;
• Emergency access;
• Supplies and commodities;
• Medical care and transport;
• Evacuation and sheltering, including that provided by another State or Tribal government;
• Childcare;
• Safety inspections;
• Animal carcass removal;
• Demolition of structures;
• Search and rescue to locate survivors, household pets, and service animals requiring assistance;
• Firefighting;
• Security, such as barricades, fencing, or law enforcement;
• Use or lease of temporary generators for facilities that provide essential community services;
• Dissemination of information to the public to provide warnings and guidance about health and safety hazards using various strategies, such as flyers, public service announcements, or newspaper campaigns;
• Searching to locate and recover human remains;
• Storage and interment of unidentified human remains; and
• Mass mortuary services.
• Emergency Public transportation and Communication (Direct Federal Assistance only);
• Hazardous materials removal and disposal; and
• Meals.

The following are eligible under limited circumstances based on specific criteria described in FEMA’s
Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide:

• Expenses related to operating a facility or providing an emergency service;
• Mosquito abatement;
• Temporary relocation of essential services; and
• Snow-related activities when specifically authorized in the declaration.

Protecting Improved Property

Eligible emergency protective measures to protect improved property include:

• Constructing emergency berms or temporary levees to provide protection from floodwaters or landslides;
• Emergency repairs necessary to prevent further damage, such as covering a damaged roof to prevent infiltration of rainwater;
• Buttressing, shoring, or bracing facilities to stabilize them or prevent collapse;
• Emergency slope stabilization;
• Mold remediation;
• Removal and storage of contents from eligible facilities for the purpose of minimizing additional damage;
• Extracting water and clearing mud, silt, or other accumulated debris from eligible facilities if the work is conducted expeditiously for the purpose of addressing an immediate threat (if the work is only necessary to restore the facility, it is Permanent Work, not Emergency Work); and
• Taking actions to save the lives of animals that are eligible for replacement.

Slope Stabilization

If a landslide or other slope instability is triggered by the incident and poses an immediate threat to life, public health and safety, or improved public or private property, emergency protective measures to stabilize the slope may be eligible.

FEMA only provides PA funding for the least costly option necessary to alleviate the threat. FEMA limits eligible stabilization measures to the area of the immediate threat, not the entire slope. Work must be reasonable relative to the size and scope of the area of instability.

FEMA may authorize funding for post-disaster inspections and limited geotechnical investigations to determine if the instability creates an unsafe condition that poses an immediate threat.

Eligible emergency protective measures include, but are not limited to:

• Emergency drainage measures;
• Emergency ground protection to better stabilize the mass (rip rap, sheeting);
• Partial excavation at the head of a sliding mass to reduce its driving force;
• Backfilling or buttressing at the toe of a sliding mass using measures such as gabions, rock toes, cribwalls, binwalls, and soldier pile walls; and
• Installation of barriers to redirect debris flow.

When evaluating eligibility of reported road and bridge damage, in addition to evaluating how the incident caused the damage, FEMA reviews maintenance records or documentation establishing that the Applicant has a routine maintenance program. In the absence of maintenance records, FEMA reviews material purchase invoices and activity logs and inspects other sections of the Applicant’s road system to confirm the performance of regular maintenance activities.

Eligible Category C Work

Repair of:

• Roads: surfaces, bases, shoulders, ditches, drainage structures, low water crossings, and
guardrails.
• Bridges: decking and pavement, piers, girders, abutments, slope protection, and approaches.
• Drainage Structures: Culverts and cross drains
• Lighting
• Signs
• Associated facilities, such as lighting, sidewalks, guardrails, and signs.

Eligible Caveats

• In addition, Permanent Work to restore roads and bridges is eligible unless restoration is under the specific authority of another Federal Agency such as FHWA.
• Work to repair scour or erosion damage to a channel or stream bank is eligible if the repair is necessary to restore the structural integrity of an eligible road, culvert, or bridge.

Ineligible Caveats

• Private roads are ineligible.  These consist of those not owned or operated by, or otherwise the legal responsibility of, a Federal, State or Local government (including orphan roads, roads in gated communities, homeowners’ association roads, etc.).
• Earthwork in a channel or stream embankment that is not related to restoring the structural integrity of an eligible facility is ineligible.
• Work to repair potholes or fatigue cracking is usually ineligible as this type of damage is rarely caused directly by one incident.

Landslides and Slope Stabilization

Roads and bridges can also be termed a facility.  FEMA’s Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide provides that if an eligible facility is located on a slope and is damaged as a result of a landslide or slope instability triggered by the incident, FEMA determines the stability of the slope that supports the facility before it approves PA funding to restore the facility. Restoration of the integral ground that supports the facility may also be eligible. The impact of slope stability on eligibility is as follows:

• If the site is stable, permanent restoration of the facility and its integral ground is eligible;
• If the site is unstable and there is no evidence of pre-disaster instability after the facility was constructed, permanent restoration of the facility and its integral ground is eligible, including measures to stabilize the integral ground; and
• If the site is unstable and there is evidence of pre-disaster instability after the facility was constructed, restoration of the facility’s integral ground is ineligible. Restoration of the facility is eligible only upon the Applicant stabilizing the site and restoring the integral ground.

Site inspections and limited geotechnical assessments to determine site stability and to obtain a technical opinion of the cause of the slope failure are eligible.

Permanent repair to stabilize natural ground that is not integral to an eligible facility’s function is ineligible.

FEMA may approve permanent relocation of the facility if the facility is subject to repetitive heavy damage and relocation is cost-effective.

The Applicant may request an Alternate Project if restoration of the facility is not feasible because of soil instability.

Water control facilities are those facilities built for the following purposes. Further clarification can be found in FEMA’s Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide

• Channel alignment;
• Recreation;
• Navigation;
• Land reclamation;
• Irrigation;
• Maintenance of fish and wildlife habitat;
• Interior drainage;
• Erosion prevention;
• Flood control; or
• Storm water management.

They include:

• Dams and reservoirs;
• Levees and floodwalls;
• Lined and unlined engineered drainage channels;
• Canals;
• Aqueducts;
• Sediment and debris basins;
• Storm water retention and detention basins;
• Coastal shoreline protective devices;
• Irrigation facilities;
• Pumping facilities; and
• Navigational waterways and shipping channels.

Restoring the Capacity of Channels, Basins, and Reservoirs

Restoring the pre-disaster carrying or storage capacity of engineered channels, debris and sediment basins, storm water detention and retention basins, and reservoirs may be eligible, but only if the Applicant provides documentation to establish:

• The pre-disaster capacity of the facility; and
• That the Applicant maintains the facility on a regular schedule.

If the Applicant chooses to remove non-incident-related material along with that deposited as a result of the incident, the project is considered an Improved Project.  Funding provided on an Improved Project is relegated to what portions of the material is eligible.

Flood Control Works

Flood control works are those structures such as levees, flood walls, flood control channels, and water control structures designed and constructed to have appreciable effects in preventing damage by irregular and unusual rises in water levels.

Generally, flood control works are under the authority of USACE or NRCS and restoration of damaged flood control works under the authority of another Federal agency is ineligible. Flood control works under the specific authority of NRCS are those that are part of the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations (WFPO) Program under PL 83-566.327.

Secondary levees riverward of a primary levee are ineligible, unless the secondary levee protects human life.

The following are considered eligible items in this category. Further clarification can be found in FEMA’s Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide.

• Buildings (schools, administrative centers, hospitals, jails, courts, and other buildings);
• Building structural and non-structural components, including mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems;
• Building contents and equipment;
• Vehicles;
• Construction equipment;
• Supplies: replacement of pre‐disaster quantities of consumable supplies and inventory, library books and publications; and
• Animals may also be treated as contents.

The following are considered eligible items in this category.

• Water storage facilities, treatment plants, and delivery systems;
• Power generation, transmission, and distribution facilities, including, but not limited to, wind turbines, generators, substations, and power lines;
• Natural gas transmission and distribution facilities;
• Sewage collection systems and treatment plants; and
• Communication systems.

FEMA’s Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide includes additional information regarding right-of-way clearance – and – transmission and distribution system conductor replacement.

Eligible publicly owned facilities in this category include:

• Mass transit facilities such as railways;
• Beaches;
• Parks;
• Playground equipment;
• Swimming pools;
• Bath houses;
• Tennis courts;
• Boat docks;
• Piers;
• Picnic tables;
• Golf courses;
• Ball fields;
• Fish hatcheries;
• Ports and harbors; and
• Other facilities that do not fit in Categories C–F.

Unimproved natural features are ineligible.  FEMA’s Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide includes additional information on eligibility factors for this category.