Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Representatives from the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services (NDDES) this week conducted an informational briefing detailing the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance (PA) Program. The federal aid was made available after North Dakota was approved April 1 for a major presidential disaster declaration for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the PA Program, FEMA can reimburse local governments, states, tribes and certain private non-profits for up to 75 percent of their eligible costs related to emergency protective measures required for the response and prevention of COVID-19. North Dakota’s disaster declaration request, which was submitted by Gov. Doug Burgum on March 29, also asked for additional FEMA programs to be opened. This included all Individual Assistance Programs and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, however, only the PA Program is currently available at this time.  

“The categories for eligible costs through FEMA’s Public Assistance Program are fairly broad during this pandemic response, meaning there are a lot of ways in which it can provide assistance to local jurisdictions, as long as those costs were incurred to prevent and protect against the impacts of COVID-19. Additionally, those costs cannot be pursued for reimbursement through additional federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” said Justin Messner, Recovery Section chief for NDDES.

Some of the eligible COVID-19 emergency protective measures the PA Program can reimburse for include: emergency operation center expenses; trainings; disinfection of eligible public facilities; emergency medical care; medical sheltering; the purchase and distribution of food, water, ice, medicine and other consumable supplies; the movement of supplies; security and law enforcement and communications of general health and safety information to the public.

For eligible applicants to receive reimbursement through the PA Program, they first need to register for access into the FEMA Grants Portal located at Once registered, applicants can submit their COVID-19 related expenses through this online mechanism where they later will be reviewed and potentially approved by FEMA and NDDES.

As part of the disaster declaration process, NDDES conducted this week’s virtual informational briefing to provide attendees an overview of the PA Program, a summary of eligible reimbursement costs and discussion about a new, simplified processes that FEMA has developed for applying during the COVID-19 pandemic. The applicant briefing can be viewed here: