COVID-19 Recovery Information

Public Assistance

In federally-declared disasters, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can provide funding and technical help to state and local governments and certain private, non-profit groups. This funding will help to fix or replace damaged public properties such as roads, bridges, buildings and parks that have been damaged or destroyed. The Public Assistance (PA) Program provides federal disaster assistance to states, local units of government, and certain private non-profit organizations, for debris removal, emergency protective measures and the permanent restoration or replacement of public facilities as a result of a major disaster or emergency declaration being made by the President. 

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) administers the Public Assistance Program as the recipient for the state of Illinois. Eligible organizations for the program are considered as subrecipients and are also called applicants. The program reimburses applicants for at least 75% of eligible costs that were a direct result of the disaster incident. While FEMA normally pays 75 percent of the eligible costs, the state and/or local government pays what is left. 

Upon a declaration of a major disaster or emergency by the President, applicant briefings are conducted by the IEMA Public Assistance staff for potential applicants in the designated counties. These applicant briefings provide an overview of the program requirements and a hands-on session to complete the required application forms. FEMA also can offer help for emergency protective measures, debris removal, emergency communications and emergency public transportation.

The Illinois Public Assistance program serves as the direct contact between FEMA and the applicant. Repayment is available to all groups and areas meeting the requirements. Trained grant managers help applicants through the reimbursement process. In most cases, federal funding help is made available on a cost-sharing basis.

How to Apply

To apply for assistance, each organization must apply within 30 days of the date of the Presidential declaration. Before you can apply for FEMA public assistance, you must be a registered applicant. If you are already a registered applicant, you can go directly to the FEMA Grants Portal to apply. You will need to provide all the information in one sitting. If your organization meets the criteria to be registered with FEMA, please have an official representative register in the FEMA Grants Portal and submit a New Registration request. If you or the registering jurisdiction is unable to utilize the FEMA Grants Portal due to technological disparity, loss of infrastructure, etc., then the organization can complete and submit a FEMA Form 90-49, Request for Public Assistance form, submit it in person or electronically to IEMA, and IEMA will apply for them.

If you are a private nonprofit, please make sure you have your tax-exempt information and other supporting documentation ready to upload for FEMA’s review. 

Illinois applicants, in order to receive assistance, must also complete and submit Public Assistance Grant Agreement, Public Assistance Risk Assessment, and FFATA Certification forms to IEMA before grant payments can be made.

FEMA will advise you via email whether or not your organization was approved for Public Assistance funding in future events. It typically takes FEMA two to three weeks to review and email new organizations about their application’s approval. 

If you are in a declared area you will be prompted to fill out and submit a Request for Public Assistance. If this form is not sent in by the deadline and the place is later found to have had major damage, it may be too late to apply.

If you are not able to get Public Assistance funding but feel you may qualify for another program, please contact the Illinois Emergency Management Agency’s 24/7 Communications Center at 217-782-7860 or the Small Business Association to figure out what help you may be able to get for your group.