Recovery programs consist of:

Federal Disaster Declaration DR-4459

From July 18 through July 20, 2019, much of Wisconsin was impacted by extremely severe weather. The storm impact varied throughout the state, producing 16 confirmed tornadoes, severe straight-line winds, large hail and heavy rains in the northern portion. Slow-moving storms in the southwestern portion of the state produced at least one tornado and torrential rain, which resulted in flash flooding leading to mudslides, damaged roads and rapid rises in area rivers. In much of central, north-central and eastern areas of the state, another line of thunderstorms produced several more tornadoes and macrobursts. This large downburst of straight-line winds, with wind speeds of 100 miles per hour or more, and associated storm system caused widespread tree and power line damage spreading from central Wisconsin to the Lake Michigan shore. Another line of severe storms moved across the central and east-central portions bringing additional rain, straight-line winds, and six more tornadoes which uprooted and snapped trees. Through most of the impacted areas, the most prevalent damages were tree debris and damages to powerlines and structures.

While local efforts began to respond immediately to the damages from the storm system, some areas were able to notify the state immediately, but others were so overwhelmed with damages and had limited communication capabilities after the storm that notifying the State was delayed. A Federal Disaster Declaration (DR-4459) was received for the impacted areas on August 27, 2019.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance (PA)

The FEMA Public Assistance (PA) grant program provides assistance to State, Tribal, and local governments and certain types of private non-profit (PNP) organizations to help reimburse costs associated with damage to public infrastructure such as roads and bridges. FEMA funds the program, which WEM administers in the state. In order to be eligible for a Presidential Disaster Declaration, the event must overwhelm state and local response and recovery efforts, meet countywide damage thresholds ($3.78 per capita) and meet a statewide damage threshold ($1.50 per capita) of $8,530,479 using the 2010 census. Once approved by the President, FEMA provides 75% reimbursement of eligible documented costs, the State of Wisconsin provides up to 12.5% of eligible documented costs, and the local government’s share is 12.5%. To request a federal disaster declaration, the Governor must request FEMA to come to the impacted county or counties and conduct a damage assessment of damaged public infrastructure such as roads and bridges. A FEMA inspector will determine if the damage is eligible under the federal program. The information gathered from a damage assessment will be provided to the Governor who will then request the President to approve a federal disaster declaration.

FEMA's Public Assistance Program is guided by the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, as amended.

Public Assistance Contact Information:

WEM PA Recovery Specialists: 


County Coverage       

Adams, Dane, Fond du Lac, Grant, Green Lake, Juneau, Lafayette, Marquette, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Portage, Sauk, Waupaca, and Wood Counties:
Kobby Antwi

Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Sawyer, and Washburn Counties:
Cody Kamrowski

Barron, Polk, and Rusk Counties:
Anita Cornell

Buffalo, Chippewa, Clark, Jackson, and Trempealeau Counties:
Kelsey Brown

Crawford, La Crosse, Langlade, Menominee, Monroe, Richland, Shawano, and Vernon Counties:
Laura Reinke

Forest, Oconto, and Oneida Counties:
Darin Learn

Wisconsin State Agencies:
Brian Williams

Questions can also be directed towards:
Eric Learn, State Public Assistance Officer
Phone: 608-242-3200

Public Assistance Resources for Subrecipients

Post Award Guidance

State Resources Federal Resources

Mitigation Funding Provided through Section 406 of the Stafford Act

The FEMA PA program provides funding to restore a damaged facility to its pre-disaster design, function, and capacity; however, during the repair work, opportunities to mitigate future damages in cost-effective ways often present themselves. The Section 406 Mitigation Program provides funding to an applicant to reduce potential of future, similar disaster damages. Some examples of this would include:

  • Upsizing a repetitively washed out culvert
  • Replacing a metal culvert with a cement culvert
  • Elevating a road surface
  • Elevation of equipment and control in a wastewater treatment plant
  • Burying of overhead power lines
  • Installing gabion baskets, riprap, or geotextile fabric to reduce or control erosion on a steep slope
There are different means to determine cost-effectiveness of particular mitigation measures. FEMA must approve proposed hazard mitigation projects before they can be incorporated. If you would like to include hazard mitigation into an open or future project, please contact our office for more information. Section 406 provides discretionary authority to fund mitigation measures in conjunction with the repair of the disaster-damaged facilities. These opportunities usually present themselves during the repair efforts. The mitigation measures must be related to eligible disaster-related damages and must directly reduce the potential for future, similar disaster damages to the eligible facility. This work is performed on the parts of the facility that were actually damaged by the disaster and the mitigation provides protection from subsequent events. Mitigation measures must be cost-effective, technically feasible, and in compliance with statutory, regulatory, and executive order requirements. In addition, the measure cannot cause a negative impact to the facility's operation or surrounding areas, or susceptibility to damage from another hazard.

Section 406 hazard mitigation funding and Section 404 Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding are two distinct programs that can sometimes be used together to more completely fund a hazard mitigation project and promote resilience. Section 406 mitigation funding can be used to restore parts of the facility that were actually damaged by the disaster to provide protection from subsequent events. Section 404 funding can then be used to provide future protection to the undamaged parts of the facility. Leveraging 404 and 406 funds in a concerted effort facilitates project scoping and development while extending the use of limited 404 funds.

Additional information can be found on FEMA’s Section 406 Hazard Mitigation Funding website.

Mitigation Resources

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Individual Assistance

For the State of Wisconsin to qualify an Individual Assistance Declaration, FEMA inspectors would look to confirm 582 (according to CFR 44) homes major damaged or destroyed. In a wind event, major damage to manufactured homes is described as the residence has been displaced from the foundation, block or piers and other structural components have been damaged.  Destroyed is the structure is a total loss; frame is bent, twisted or otherwise compromised; missing the roof covering or the structural ribbing has collapsed for the majority of the roof system.  For conventionally built homes, major damage is considered partial failure to structural elements of the roof, walls, or foundation.  Destroyed is complete failure of two or more major structural components (walls, foundation, or roof) or only foundation remains. To request a federal disaster declaration, the Governor must request FEMA to come to the impacted county or counties and conduct a damage assessment of damaged homes and businesses. A FEMA inspector will determine if the damage is eligible under the federal program. The information gathered from a damage assessment will be provided to the Governor who will then request the President to approve a federal disaster declaration.  In an Individual Assistance Declaration the Individual Assistance program provides assistance to individuals and households, which may include:

  • Individual and Household Program - FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program (IHP) provides financial and/or direct assistance to eligible applicants. Parts of the program include:
    • Housing Assistance includes Temporary Housing such as rental assistance.
    • Repair provides financial assistance to help homeowners repair or replace disaster damage to their primary residence not covered by insurance. The assistance is intended to repair the home to a safe and sanitary condition.
    • Other Needs Assistance (ONA) provides assistance for medical/dental; assistance with funeral expenses for disaster related death; Child Care for disaster related increase in financial burden for child care; and other miscellaneous items.
  • Crisis Counseling – Assists individuals and communities in recovering from the effects of natural and human-caused disaster through the provision of community-based outreach and psycho-educational services.
  • Disaster Case Management - A time-limited process that involves a partnership between a case manager and a disaster survivor to develop and carry out a Disaster Recovery Plan.
  • Disaster Unemployment Assistance –Purpose is to provide unemployment benefits and reemployment services to individuals who have become unemployed as a result of a Presidential disaster declaration and who are not eligible for regular State Unemployment Insurance.
  • Disaster Legal Services – This service is provided for survivors of presidentially declared major disasters only. Disaster legal advice is limited to cases that will not produce a fee.
  • Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) – Through D-SNAP, USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is able to quickly offer short-term food assistance benefits to families suffering in the wake of a disaster.

Wisconsin Disaster Fund (WDF)

The Wisconsin Disaster Fund (WDF) is a state-funded reimbursement program that allows local governmental units – namely, counties, cities, townships, villages, and tribal units of government – to recoup costs incurred while responding to and recovering from disaster events. The state reimburses 70% of eligible costs after the local governmental unit submits a complete WDF application. The fund does not cover individuals, businesses, the agricultural sector, costs associated with snow storms, damages covered by insurance, nor does it provide funds for mitigation activities. The fund does reimburse public disaster costs under three categories of work: debris clearance, protective measures, and road and bridge repair.

How to Apply

County Emergency Management Directors submit the following documents:
  1. Within 24 hours of an event: Affected counties submit a UDSR (“Uniform Disaster Situation Report”) to WEM, which provides basic information regarding the event.
  2. Within 30 days of the event: A County Notification Form is submitted to WEM, which lists local jurisdictions seeking WDF reimbursement and their estimated recovery costs.
Within 60 days of the event, local governmental units – known as “Applicants” – submit the following documents after all recovery work is complete:
  1. The Applicant Request for State Public Assistance.
    • Also, a Disaster or Emergency Declaration will need to be submitted, which can be a state, county, or local declaration, as long as it covers the Applicant’s jurisdiction.
  2. The Local Documentation “Toolkit” which allows the WDF office to interpret what the Applicant is claiming on a cost-by-cost basis. This is only submitted when ALL work is complete and documented.
    • All supporting documentation which includes timesheets for labor costs, invoices and cancelled checks for materials and contract work, and other supporting documents as needed.
The documentation submitted by local Applicants, especially the Toolkit and supporting materials, can be difficult to complete without prior knowledge of the WDF documentation process; therefore, applicants are encouraged to watch the WDF applicant briefing below. After watching the video, Applicants will learn that WDF reimbursement is based on documented costs in labor, equipment usage, purchased materials (such as gravel), and contracted work, as long as the work falls under one of the eligible categories of work: debris clearance, protective measures, and road and bridge repair.

WDF Contact Information

Wisconsin Disaster Fund Coordinator
Phone: 608-242-3259 

WDF Resources for County Emergency Managers

WDF Resources for Local Applicants



FB100   TWITTER100   INSTAGRAM100   YT100   FLICKR   WEM_News