Homeland Security Notes Mitigation Awards

Michael Brown, under secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response and head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently announced that FEMA will award approximately 400 mitigation projects in its Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program (PDM) national competition. Those projects will receive 75 percent federal funding.

The PDM Program, originally authorized in the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 and first funded by President Bush in his FY 2003 budget, provides funding for mitigation plans and the implementation of cost-effective projects, such as buyouts of flood-prone buildings, construction of safe rooms, elevations of homes located in the floodplain or making structures more earthquake resistant, prior to disaster events.

“This program encourages local leaders across the nation to look ahead and plan against what could be catastrophic events. These projects show that the states and local communities are working together with FEMA and other partners to make mitigation happen,” said Brown. “Mitigation is the cornerstone of emergency preparedness and management. Funding these plans and projects reduces risks to lives and property. By making our communities safer in the first place, we make great strides toward reducing the need for federal post-disaster recovery funds.”

Each of the awardees not only had an approved state hazard mitigation plan, and presented a competitive mitigation project, but also met a host of requirements including non-federal matching funds and approved environmental reviews. Applications are currently being sought for the FY 2006 PDM grant cycle.

“Our national team faced an extraordinary challenge in picking out the best projects from all the applicants,” said David Maurstad, acting director of FEMA’s Mitigation Division. “While many projects met all the necessary criteria, we worked to choose the best projects for the amount of funds available. These projects really are the cream of the crop and they show how seriously the nation, the states and applicants take mitigation activities.”

The Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program provides funds to states, territories, Indian tribes, communities, colleges, and universities for pre-disaster mitigation planning and the implementation of cost-effective mitigation projects before a disaster occurs. Funding these plans and projects reduces overall risks to the population and structures, while also reducing reliance on funding from actual disaster declarations. The projects chosen in the 2005 national grant competition will split a total of $235 million for plans and projects. Most projects will be eligible for a 75 percent federal share with a 25 percent non-federal match, but small, impoverished communities may be eligible for up to a 90 percent federal cost-share.

Nearly 800 applications were received nationwide. A team of experts from federal and state governments evaluated all eligible applications and based their determinations on a wide range of criteria such as the technical feasibility of the proposed project, the project’s cost-effectiveness, management and staffing of personnel to implement the project, hazard and risk factors, and benefits to the community.

Additional information about the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program can be found on the FEMA Web site at www.fema.gov/fima/pdm.shtm