Alternate – Funding alternatives are available when it comes to developing a disaster recovery and rebuilding plan. Applicants have options; they can replace the original structure, improve upon it, or direct the money toward another project. Applicants may find that the public/ community will not be best served by rebuilding an impaired facility and restoring its functionality to its pre-disaster state; therefore, applicants may request to use their funding for the same facility for alternative project(s). Applicants may request Alternate Project funding for permanent recovery restoration projects. Alternate Project funds may be used for Hazard Mitigation projects that are eligible under Section 404 of the Stafford Act.Earlier this year the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013 was signed into law. The law (added section 428), which now authorizes alternative procedures for the Public Assistance (PA) Program. FEMA will implement the alternative procedures for permanent work through a newly established pilot program. The program allows grants to be expedited for projects on the basis of fixed estimates that may provide financial incentives for the timely or cost-effective completion of work if the eligible applicant, agrees to be responsible for actual costs that exceed the estimate. Another benefit of this pilot program is the flexibility to use of all or part of the excess grant funds for (cost-effective) projects that minimize the risk of future damage, reduce vulnerability of hardship, or suffering from a declared disaster, as well as other actions to improve PA operations or planning.
Improved – Facilities must have equal functionality and the same capacity as that of the pre-disaster structure. The applicant may make additional improvements to their facility while making disaster repairs. Applicants must receive pre-approval from the state before project commencement. In addition, an improved project that results in a significant change from the pre-disaster configuration (i.e., different location, function, or size) of the facility must also be pre-approved by FEMA prior to construction.When an applicant proposes an alternate or improved project, FEMA conducts a stringent review to ensure the revised project does not change the functionality or capacity of a facility outside the footprint of the existing structure, and is compliant with the Environmental and Historic Preservation (EHP) laws/ regulations. Staying abreast of changes in PA laws can be highly beneficial to clients who are interested in maximizing their recovery options and their funding dollars.