Tribal governments are an important and unique member of the family of American governments. They, as explained by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), provide multiple programs and services, including social programs, first responder services, education, workforce development, and energy and land management. They also build and maintain a variety of infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and public buildings. Such governmental programs, services, and infrastructure are best protected through hazard mitigation.
Under the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-390), state, local, and tribal governments are required to develop a hazard mitigation plan as a condition for receiving certain types of non-emergency disaster assistance and federal grants to implement mitigation projects. The construction of safe rooms is an example of an eligible project type for hazard mitigation assistance grant funding.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) believes that hazard mitigation is key to breaking the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage. In fact, the National Institute of Building Sciences now estimates that every dollar invested in mitigation saves six dollars in prevented damages (up from four dollars in previous years). This money could prove invaluable to the 574 federally recognized Indian Nations across the country.
Whether your tribal government is looking to develop its first hazard mitigation plan, or update its current one, there are numerous resources available to help with the process. Among them are FEMA’s Tribal Mitigation Planning Handbook (released May 29, 2019), which is a companion to its Tribal Mitigation Plan Review Guide. There is also FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant program to help with the costs.