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Disaster Preparedness

The recent severe thunderstorms that affected much of southern New Jersey brings to light the importance of emergency preparedness.  Many of the storms that swept through the region on June 30th, caused extended power outages, massive destruction from downed trees and power lines, and blocked roadways creating difficulty for first responders seeking to help those in need. In addition it put many residents out of their homes in the midst of a record heat wave.

The severe storm that caused much of the damage is called a “derecho” which be definition is a “widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms. Although a derecho can produce destruction similar to that of tornadoes, the damage typically is directed in one direction along a relatively straight swath.” (Robert H. Johns, 2012). The damage from the storm left approximately 206,000 residents without power in Atlantic, Cumberland and Salem Counties as utility poles were snapped in two and falling trees caused downed wires.  Experiencing destructive, fast moving storms in the middle of the night left many to wait until the morning to see the actual destruction that occurred outside. Meanwhile however, first responders were already assessing damage, planning recovery, and mobilizing the recovery process.

Such natural disaster events remind us of the importance of disaster planning and emergency preparedness. As such, the Federal Emergency Management Association provides many grant and funding opportunities that assist municipalities and residents in the preparation and response of such events. The programs are especially helpful in instances when the event did not cause for a Major Disaster Declaration recommended by the Governor but ultimately approved by the President. For the event that occurred on June 30th, 2012,  a major disaster declaration was signed on Thursday July 19th by president Obama, and “provides for financial assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency to Atlantic, Cumberland and Salem counties, which were listed in the request sent by acting Gov. Kim Guadagno on July 11” (Lemongello, 2012). “County emergency management directors clarified that this declaration affects public entities and municipalities, not individual homeowners and businesses. A separate declaration for assistance to individuals is being reviewed, although directors differed as to when it might be expected. Guadagno’s request stated that the three counties suffered more than $17 million in damages from the storm, including $10.2 million in debris removal in Atlantic County.” (LEMONGELLO, 2012)  The programs noted below are those will assist county emergency management departments in preparing for these major events in the future.

According to a June 29th, 2012 press release, “Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced the final allocations for seven FY 2012 Preparedness Grant programs, totaling more than $1.3 billion to assist states, urban areas, tribal and territorial governments, non-profit agencies, and the private sector in strengthening our nation’s ability to prevent, protect, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies in support of the National Preparedness Goal (NPG). In FY 2012, DHS preparedness grants were reduced by nearly $1 billion from the FY 2011 enacted level and $1.5 billion below the President’s FY 2012 request.” (Department of Homeland Security , 2012).

The follow discusses the various program and opportunities to help communities and residents alike to mitigate their losses after a disaster and emergency planning. 

Hazard Mitigation Grant Program – “The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) provides grants to States and local governments to implement long-term hazard mitigation measures after a major disaster declaration.  Authorized under Section 404 of the Stafford Act and administered by FEMA, HMGP was created to reduce the loss of life and property due to natural disasters.  The program enables mitigation measures to be implemented during the immediate recovery from a disaster.” (FEMA, 2012)
There are several types of mitigation project that can be undertaken during the recovery period after a disaster such as Flood Mitigation Assistance Program, Repetitive Flood Claims, Pre-Disaster Mitigation, and Severe Repetitive Loss. Below is a brief summary of each program and the projects they fund. It should also be noted that it is encouraged to apply for mitigation grants during the reconstruction phase so the funds can be used in the recovery period of a disaster to mitigate disaster damage and claims for future events.

Repetitive Flood Claims - “The Repetitive Flood Claims (RFC) grant program was authorized by the Bunning-Bereuter-Blumenauer Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2004 (P.L. 108–264), which amended the National Flood Insurance Act (NFIA) of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 4001, et al)”. (FEMA, Repetitive Flood Claims , 2012)

“Up to $10 million is available annually for FEMA to provide RFC funds to assist states and communities reduce flood damages to insured properties that have had one or more claims to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)”. (FEMA, Repetitive Flood Claims , 2012)

Flood Mitigation Assistance Program - The three types of FMA grants are available to States and communities:

  • Planning Grants to prepare Flood Mitigation Plans. Only NFIP-participating communities with approved Flood Mitigation Plans can apply for FMA Project grants (FEMA, 2012).
  • Project Grants to implement measures to reduce flood losses, such as elevation, acquisition, or relocation of NFIP-insured structures. States are encouraged to prioritize FMA funds for applications that include repetitive loss properties; these include structures with 2 or more losses each with a claim of at least $1,000 within any ten-year period since 1978 (FEMA, 2012).
  • Management Cost Grants for the State to help administer the FMA program and activities. Up to ten percent (10%) of Project grants may be awarded to States for Management Cost Grants (FEMA, 2012).

Pre Disaster Mitigation -“The Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) program provides funds to states, territories, Indian tribal governments, communities, and universities for hazard mitigation planning and the implementation of mitigation projects prior to a disaster event.” (FEMA, 2012)

Severe Repetitive Loss Program - The purpose of this program is to provide funding to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk of flood damage to severe repetitive loss (SRL) structures insured under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). (FEMA, Severe Repetive Loss Program , 2012) There are specifications to this program that determine eligibility, and residential structures are the only eligible property type. The ultimate goal of the program is to reduce the claims to the National Flood Insurance Fund.
Other programs not under the Hazard Mitigation programming include: Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER), and Assistance to Fire Grant (AFG). These programs are described below:

SAFER – Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response – “The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) was created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase the number of trained, "front line" firefighters available in their communities. The goal of SAFER is to enhance the local fire departments' abilities to comply with staffing, response, and operational standards established by the NFPA and OSHA (NFPA 1710 and/or NFPA 1720 and OSHA 1910.134)”. (FEMA, Staffing For Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grants, 2012). The application period for this grant is currently open and closes August 10, 2012. If you are not prepared to apply this year, now is the perfect time to start planning for next year application!

Assistance to Fire Fighters (AFG) Grant – “The primary goal of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations. Since 2001, AFG has helped firefighters and other first responders to obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.” (FEMA, Assistance to Firefighters Grant, 2012) The Application period for this grant has closed for FY 2012, however planning for these grants can take months to coordinate, so start planning now!

Fire Prevention & Safety Grants (FP&S)- “The Fire Prevention and Safety Grants (FP&S) are part of the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG), and are under the preview of the Grant Programs Directorate in the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FP&S Grants support projects that enhance the safety of the public and firefighters from fire and related hazards. The primary goal is to target high-risk populations and reduce injury and prevent death. In 2005, Congress reauthorized funding for FP&S and expanded the eligible uses of funds to include Firefighter Safety Research and Development.” (FEMA, Fire Prevention & Safety Grants, 2012) The application period announcement for this grant is expected August 2012. 

Stay updated on all of the FEMA grant and Mitigation Grant opportunities at their website www.fema.gov

Bibliography

Department of Homeland Security . (2012, June 29). US Department of Homeland Security . Retrieved July 19, 2012, from US Department of Homeland Security : http://www.dhs.gov/ynews/releases/20120629-dhs-announces-fy-2012-preparedness-grant-awards.shtm

FEMA. (2012, July 19). Assistance to Firefighters Grant. Retrieved July 20, 2012, from Assistance to Firefighters Grant: http://www.fema.gov/assistance-firefighters-grant

FEMA. (2012, July 17). Fire Prevention & Safety Grants. Retrieved July 20, 2012, from Fire Prevention & Safety Grants: http://www.fema.gov/fire-prevention-safety-grants

FEMA. (2012, June 25). Repetitive Flood Claims . Retrieved July 20, 2012, from Repetitive Flood Claims: http://www.fema.gov/repetitive-flood-claims-program

FEMA. (2012, 15 June). Severe Repetive Loss Program . Retrieved July 20 , 2012, from FEMA: http://www.fema.gov/severe-repetitive-loss-program

FEMA. (2012, July 19). Staffing For Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grants. Retrieved July 20, 2012, from Staffing For Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grants: http://www.fema.gov/staffing-adequate-fire-emergency-response-grants

FEMA. (2012, June 25). What is the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. Retrieved july 20, 2012, from FEMA : http://www.fema.gov/hazard-mitigation-grant-program-hmgp/what-hazard-mitigation-grant-program

Robert H. Johns, J. S. (2012, July 19). ABOUT DERECHOS. Retrieved July 19, 2012, from NOAA-NWS-NCEP Storm Prediction Center : http://www.spc.noaa.gov/misc/AbtDerechos/derechofacts.htm#whatsnew

LEMONGELLO, S. W. (2012, July 19). Disaster declaration helps Atlantic, Salem, Cumberland county governments in storm aftermath. Press of Atlantic City .

 

 

 

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