In less than a month’s time, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced four major disaster declarations. The first was approved on September 13, 2019 for the State of Arkansas following severe storms and flooding. Two others were approved on September 19, 2019: one for the State of Louisiana after flooding, and another for the State of Illinois following severe storms and flooding. The third declaration came on October 4, 2019, for the State of North Carolina following Hurricane Dorian. Such declarations mean these states are now eligible to apply for assistance under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).

Per FEMA, the key purpose of HMGP, which is authorized under Section 404 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act), is to enact mitigation measures that reduce the risk of loss of life and property from future disasters. Such measures can provide a number of key benefits. In fact, the National Institute of Building Sciences now estimates that for every dollar invested in mitigation saves six dollars in prevented damages (up from four dollars in previous years).

Mitigation Benefits:

  • Supports risk reduction activities
  • Improves resiliency
  • Eliminates the impact of future events
  • Provides a long-term solution to a problem (For example, a project to elevate a home reduces the risk of flood damage from future floods; whereas, buying sandbags and using pumps reduces the risk of damage from a single flood.)
  • Offers a cost-effective solution (To be funded, a project’s potential savings must be more than the cost of implementing the project.)
  • Helps avoid repetitive damage from disasters (Funds may be used to protect either public or private property or to purchase property that has been subject to or is in danger of repetitive damage.)

It is important to note, however, that HMGP recipients, i.e., states, federally recognized tribes, or territories, have the primary responsibility for prioritizing, selecting, and administering state and local hazard mitigation projects. That means funding recipients must not only choose such projects wisely but also document them in full detail in their hazard mitigation plans (HMPs). Further, those plans must be updated every five years in order to remain eligible for certain mitigation dollars.

If it’s been a while since you last reviewed your HMP, or you’re struggling to write the first one on your own, now may be the perfect time to call or email BOLDplanni