Rebuilding Under the FEMA Public Assistance Program: Repair? Replace? Relocate?


Before any decisions can be made, the damaged facility must be stabilized. Along with your insurance carrier, FEMA requires that you make all reasonable attempts to minimize damage (pumping water, dehumidifying, etc.) that it categorizes as emergency protective measures. In doing so, while there are obvious damages caused by floodwaters, you must also be aware of potential aftereffects — such as toxic contamination (air, soil, water), mold growth, scouring or weakening of foundations (buildings, bridges, roadways and more) and interruption of vital services (electrical, water, sewer). Even before the floodwaters have receded, you should contemplate these aftereffects and try to minimize their effects.

How are Repair Costs Determined?
Once facilities are stabilized, the next step is to assess the damages and determine what repairs are needed to return them to predisaster function and capacity. The Code of Federal Regulations, Title 44, §206.226(f)(1) states: “A facility is considered repairable when disaster damages do not exceed 50 percent of the cost of replacing a facility to its pre-disaster condition and it is feasible to repair the facility so that it can perform the function for which it was being used immediately prior to the disaster.”

To estimate the repair cost, an assessment of all components damaged by the flood must be made — using FEMA’s criterion of “putting it back the way it was” (pre-disaster) or “returning the facility to its original form, function and design.” This assessment should

result in a comprehensive scope of work detailing damages and related repairs. If possible, the scope of work should be broken into standard Construction Specifications Institute divisions, since FEMA also uses this method:

Division 1: General Requirements
Division 2: Site Work
Division 3: Concrete

Division 4: Masonry
Division 5: Metals
Division 6: Woods and Plastics
Division 7: Thermal and Moisture                Protection
Division 8: Doors and Windows
Division 9: Finishes
Division 10: Specialties
Division 11: Equipment
Division 12: Furnishings