March 5, 2013

FTA, FEMA form disaster action plan for transit

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that outlines the roles and responsibilities of both agencies in providing federal assistance to repair and restore public transportation systems in areas that the President has declared a major disaster or emergency.

FTA’s newly authorized Public Transportation Emergency Relief Program was established by MAP-21 and the MOA is required to establish the relief program.

“After disasters hit, our federal, state and local partners must be able to move quickly and make the necessary repairs to our nation’s transit systems, roads, rails and bridges,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Today’s announcement makes it easier for them to get to work, and DOT will continue to work closely with FEMA and our partners to ensure that emergency relief funds are available as quickly as possible to rebuild from Hurricane Sandy.”

The MOA is a key requirement that must be in place before the bulk of the FTA’s disaster relief funds for Hurricane Sandy aid can be released, as prescribed by the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. A link to the MOA is available here.

“We can only be successful in responding and recovering from disasters if we work as a team,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “That means bringing together government at the federal, state, tribal and local levels, along with our partners outside of government. This partnership with FTA builds on an already strong relationship to ensure that our transit nationwide is more resilient.”

“More than one-third of our nation’s transit riders were directly affected by Hurricane Sandy — triggering the worst transit disaster in history,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. “FTA and FEMA worked quickly to get this agreement in place in order to bring much-needed relief to transit agencies that were hit hardest by the storm, to ensure that transit riders have the reliable service they need, and so that agencies have better resources to plan for and mitigate the impact of such disasters in the future.”

FEMA will continue to have primary federal responsibility for emergency preparedness, response and recovery in major disasters and emergencies. The new emergency relief authority provides FTA with primary responsibility for reimbursing emergency response and recovery costs after an emergency or disaster that affects public transportation systems and for helping to mitigate the impact of future disasters.

FTA continues to work collaboratively with FEMA to conduct damage assessments and cost-validation work in the hardest-hit parts of New York and New Jersey, as well as other regions where transit was impacted.

The Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, which President Barack Obama signed into law on Jan. 29, required the FTA to make available no more than $2 billion in disaster funds within 60 days of enactment of the disaster relief appropriation, which the agency is currently doing. The remaining funds required a MOA between FEMA and FTA and the establishment of emergency relief program regulations by FTA.

With the MOA complete, the remaining disaster relief funds will be made available after FTA issues interim regulations, which is expected to occur in April.

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