Washington Gov. Gary Locke this week announced the approval of the state’s enhanced hazard mitigation plan at a news conference in Olympia. Washington is the first state in the nation to have its plan approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
“I am proud that our enhanced plan is the first in the nation approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency,” Locke said. “This will help communities throughout the state plan for and respond to disasters. By doing so, we can help spare individuals and families from the heartbreak of losing their homes, as well as injury and even death.”
Joining Locke was John Pennington, regional director of FEMA, Gen. Timothy Lowenberg, director of the state’s Military Department, and Mark Kahley, Resource Protection Division manager for the state Department of Natural Resources.
“The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 requires state and tribal governments to plan for potential hazards, with the specific intent of defining actions that will save lives and protect property,” Pennington said. “The state of Washington was able to complete this task before the November 1, 2004, deadline and at an enhanced level.”
The state’s enhanced hazard mitigation plan will result in four main benefits to the state. They include:
· Increased Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds following a disaster. States with enhanced hazard mitigation plans can receive funds of up to 20 percent of federal Stafford Act expenditures on a disaster. States with a standard plan are only eligible for 7.5 percent funding.
· Continued eligibility for permanent repair and restoration work for disaster-caused damage to public facilities such as schools, municipal water systems and fire stations.
· Continued eligibility for fire management assistance grants to help the Department of Natural Resources and local agencies. These grants pay for the costs of fighting wildfires that threaten lives, property, critical facilities, and watersheds, and are beyond the response capabilities of state and local governments.
· Continued eligibility for Flood Mitigation Assistance and Pre-Disaster Mitigation programs. Since 1988, the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program has provided nearly $1.5 million in federal and match funds to help the state and local communities reduce flood damage.
“Having an enhanced plan demonstrates the state’s commitment to a comprehensive hazard mitigation program beyond what can be accomplished through the federal mitigation programs,” Locke added. Our plan will help communities throughout the state plan for and respond to disaster, whenever they may occur.”
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