IBTS Helping Communities Kick STaRT Disaster Recovery

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Seaside scene in Rincon, Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria showing damage to businesses.

As part of its public service mission, IBTS developed the OnHAND website to provide free online educational resources and tools for communities that need help navigating disaster planning, response and recovery. For communities that need additional assistance, IBTS also provides on-the-ground pro bono educational services on federal funding programs available after a disaster through our Start Toward a Recovery Today (STaRT) Program.

“The STaRT Program allows us to get boots on the ground when communities are waiting for federal funding to come through and often need help gearing up for what’s to come,” explains IBTS Corporate Disaster Recovery Executive Mike Spletto. “As a nonprofit, providing these services pro bono is part of our mission as an organization.”

Most recently, IBTS has been on the ground in Puerto Rico, assisting San Germán and Maricao through a STaRT program designed to educate the communities on the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program funding that will soon become available to local governments across Puerto Rico. IBTS is providing education and helping local leaders prioritize eligible projects.

As in San Germán and Maricao, IBTS offers STaRT Program services in the months and sometimes years following a disaster, when communities are waiting for federal and state funding to be allocated to local governments. However, communities can also request STaRT Program services before a disaster hits to get a head start on learning about federal recovery funding options and how to maximize their funding opportunities.

“We’re focused on making sure your community is prepared for the next disaster, or ready to move forward appropriately towards recovery from your most recent disaster,” Spletto says.

STaRT program services generally focus on education related to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and CDBG-DR funding, but are highly customizable to meet your post-disaster recovery needs. To help communities determine an effective route to recovery, IBTS advises on a wide range of factors that can maximize funding opportunities, such as:

  • Recovery project prioritization
  • Additional funding sources, such as recovery grants offered by the Army Corps of Engineer, Department of Transportation, Small Business Association (SBA), and more
  • How to write successful requests for proposals (RFPs)
  • Assessing a need for contracting with consultants or signing into a subrecipient agreement

We can also review record and documentation management systems and procurement policies for compliance with federal funding program requirements, which is often overlooked in the post-disaster chaos but required for federal reimbursement.

Lessons and guidance shared through the STaRT Program are based on IBTS’s decades of experience providing long-term, full service disaster recovery grant administration and related support services that are funded through HUD and FEMA grants.

To learn more about the STaRT Program or request services, contact Mike Spletto at mspletto@ibts.org.