As natural disasters increase in quantity and severity, municipalities find themselves grappling with an increased need for FEMA reimbursements to support emergency response and recovery.

If you have been through an emergency operations center (EOC) activation, then you understand that the quality of documentation during an event can make or break a community’s recovery phase. With the help of Cityworks and ArcGIS, your organization can streamline emergency event operations and improve documentation to meet FEMA reporting requirements.

1. Make the Workflows Familiar

One key preparation step is to embed your emergency workflows into your daily operations. Are your staff comfortable generating service requests, work orders, or inspections? Are they familiar with the process of capturing comments, costs, pictures, and attachments? Even if the answer to these questions is yes, make sure to incorporate documentation collection as part of your annual emergency exercises so everyone understands his or her role and the importance of the documentation unit.

2. Capture Data During the Event

Capturing associated event costs is crucial to requesting FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) grants. While some organizations have internal costs for equipment, FEMA reimburses according to its own fee schedule at the time of the event. The Cityworks local government templates database, available online at MyCityworks, includes the latest FEMA schedule rates. By using accurate FEMA rates during an event activation, you can rest assured your organization will be in compliance.

During an event, having accurate information on available resources is critical to planning the next shift and deploying the correct staff. One way to keep everyone informed is to use the Notes widget to communicate the current shift employees and crews for each branch. Each work activity saved in Cityworks becomes the substantial documentation supporting FEMA’s ICS 214 form, also known as the Activity Log.

Some organizations choose to label event-related work orders using the status field. Others use a separate template that reflects their emergency operations plan. Regardless of your method, one effective way to bundle all associated work activities and costs is to tag them with a project. Project Manager will then allow you to see the expended costs, which can be used to calculate the burn rate.

3. Visualize Event Data

The data you collect during an event can have incredible value beyond FEMA reporting. With the help of Cityworks and ArcGIS, you can reinvest it to inform both your operations and your community. For example, event layers can help keep field staff informed while Cityworks eURLs can extend your information into Esri tools such as Operations Dashboard and WebApp Builder. Cityworks eURLs can also be published to publicly accessible web maps that display the status of reported calls, areas under notice, or closed roadways.

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All municipalities, regardless of their emergency events risk, can benefit from implementing the workflows and data elements to support effective FEMA reporting. Ultimately, this pre-planning will help your organization build a more resilient, safe, and sustainable community.





Dinorah Sanchez is an asset management subject matter expert at Cityworks. She can be reached at

Lead image from iStock

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