Federal Disaster Assistance

Broken Road

In a catastrophic disaster, and if the state’s governor requests, federal resources may be mobilized through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for federal assistance to state or local governments to pay part of the costs of rebuilding a community’s damaged infrastructure.

Federal assistance may include funding for debris removal, emergency protective measures and public services, repair or replacement of damaged public property, loans needed by communities for essential government functions and grants for public schools. FEMA coordinates with Cal OES to implement the Public Assistance (PA) Grant Program.

Stafford Act Declarations

Major Disaster Declaration (DR)

The President can declare a DR for any natural event the president believes has caused damage of such severity and magnitude that it is beyond the combined capabilities of State and local governments and disaster relief organizations to respond.  A DR provides a wide range of Federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work.

Emergency Declaration (EM)

An EM can be declared for any occasion or instance the President determines Federal assistance is needed to supplement State and local efforts and capabilities to save lives, protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe.  The amount of an EM declaration is capped at $5 million per single event unless continued assistance is need to alleviate the threat to lives, public health, and safety.

DR/EM Sample Process

  • A joint Preliminary Damage Assessment is conducted by FEMA, Cal OES, and local partners to determine losses and recovery needs
  • The Governor requests federal assistance
  • The President approves the request for federal disaster funding or FEMA informs the governor it has been denied. This decision process could take a few hours or several weeks
  • Cal OES holds Applicants’ Briefings to provide a general overview of the Public Assistance (PA) program and describe the application process
  • Applicants submit a Request for Public Assistance to Cal OES within 30 days of the date of the declaration
  • Kick-off Meetings for eligible applicants are held with FEMA, Cal OES and the local partner to provide a more detailed review of the program and specific applicant needs
  • The applicant submits a List of Projects to Cal OES
  • Damaged sites are documented using a Subgrant Application (Project Worksheet)
  • Eligible Project Worksheets are obligated
  • Funding is disbursed through Cal OES to the applicant as appropriate
  • Applicants are required to provide quarterly status updates for each large project
  • Applicants must submit time extension requests prior to the last approved project deadline
  • Applicants complete construction of their projects and notify Cal OES (within 60 days of completion of EACH large project or within 60 days of completion of ALL small projects)
  • Cal OES and FEMA complete a closeout of the application

Register or Login to FEMA Grants Portal

Applicants must set up an account and submit a Request for Public Assistance (RPA).

YouTube Training Videos for FEMA Grants Portal

View the official FEMA PA Grants Portal Grants Manager Youtube Channel

Applicants’ Briefings Schedule

View the complete list of briefings currently scheduled for various emergency declarations.

Public Assistance Forms, Documents, and Reference Materials

All materials mentioned in the Applicants’ Briefings can be found here.

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For any questions regarding your Public Assistance (PA), California Disaster Assistance Act (CDAA), Coronavirus Assistance (COVID-19), or Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) payments, please direct questions or concerns to the Public Assistance Financial Processing Unit at (916) 845-8110 or RecoveryPayments@caloes.ca.gov. 

Technical Assistance

For questions and other Public Assistance related inquiries, please send an email to DisasterRecovery@CalOES.ca.gov or call (916) 845-8200.