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North Carolina Division

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The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Emergency Relief, or ER, program can help State and local agencies fund repairs to Federal-aid eligible roads, bridges, and other infrastructure after a natural disaster such as hurricanes.

The repair work within the right-of-way of Federal-aid highways is usually eligible to receive ER funds, if the roadway is in an affected county that is included in the Governor's Declaration or Presidential Declaration.

The decision to seek financial assistance for a disaster event under the FHWA's ER program rests with NCDOT. Local agencies with damage to Federal-aid highways should make their application for ER reimbursement through NCDOT. It is NCDOT's responsibility to seek ER funding for the repair of Federal-aid highways, regardless of which jurisdiction.

The ER Process

The FHWA Emergency Relief Manual outlines two types of repairs following a disaster: emergency repairs and permanent repairs.

  1. Emergency repairs are made during or right after a disaster to restore essential traffic, to minimize the extent of damage, or to protect the remaining facilities. Repairs that go beyond these three objectives are permanent repairs. State and local highway authorities are empowered to immediately begin emergency repairs to restore essential traffic service and to prevent further damage to Federal-aid highway facilities.  Properly documented costs with before and after photos are usually eligible for reimbursement. On the other hand, permanent repairs require prior FHWA approval.

  2. Permanent repairs are those repairs undertaken after the occurrence of a disaster to restore the highway to its pre-disaster condition. The total cost of ER funding for a project is typically limited to the cost of repair or reconstruction of a comparable facility that meets the current geometric and construction standards required for the types and volume of traffic that the facility will carry over its design life. Under certain circumstances, betterments may be eligible for if demonstrated to be cost-effective; an example would be for resilience improvements.  This eligibility is limited to those portions of the facility that have been damaged.

Damage Assessments: NCDOT in coordination with the FHWA North Carolina Division office undertakes damage surveys and/or detailed site inspections. This may include local authorities where appropriate. Typically, this involves on-the-ground visits of the damage sites to verify the extent of damage and to determine the cost of repairs eligible for ER funding.  Specific sites not visited by FHWA are subject to review and approval of all required documentation.

Implementation of Projects: ER construction contracts are advanced generally in similar fashion as regular Federal-aid highway projects. The total amount of ER funding provided is based on the Federal share of actual costs incurred by NCDOT and local highway authorities to complete eligible repair activities.

The Final ER eligibility and reimbursement will be based on the documentation submitted showing cost, justification, and compliance with Federal requirements.

Contact Information

FHWA North Carolina Division – (919) 856-4346

Web Resources

The Emergency Relief process is explained in a series of four videos:

  1. Program Overview and Eligibility
  2. Initial Steps for Requesting ER Funds
  3. Steps for Receiving Reimbursement of ER Expenses
  4. Emergency versus Permanent Repairs

Note:  Each video has a printable "Companion Resource" on its website.

Links to related Code of Federal Regulations and other information


Page last modified on December 14, 2020
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000