Background and Authorities
As authorized by the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977 (Public Law 95–124) and as required by the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Reauthorization Act of 2004 (Public Law 108–360), it is the mission of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in cooperation with other agencies participating in National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), "to reduce the risks of life and property from future earthquakes in the United States through the establishment and maintenance of an effective earthquake risk reduction program." In support of this mission, Public Law 108–360 directed FEMA to operate a program of direct assistance to states to accomplish various eligible earthquake safety and mitigation activities. This resulted in the creation of the NEHRP Earthquake State Assistance Program to increase and enhance the effective implementation of earthquake risk reduction at the local level.
FEMA awards cooperative agreements to select states and territories with moderate to high seismic risks to fund one or more of the following eligible activities. The purpose is to support the establishment of earthquake hazards reduction programming and the implementation of earthquake safety, mitigation, and resilience activities at the local level.
- Develop seismic mitigation plans
States and territories may use this funding opportunity to develop, update, or enhance their seismic mitigation plan. This may include funding risk analysis (including Hazards-United States HAZUS loss estimation), needs assessment, plan development workshops, local plan adoption and training, or other actionable and measurable tasks carried out in direct support of this eligible activity.
Any seismic mitigation plan funded under this program shall be aligned with and support the state’s overall approved hazard mitigation plan to ensure a well-coordinated community risk reduction effort.
- Prepare inventories and conduct seismic safety inspections of critical structures and lifelines
States and territories may use this funding opportunity to plan, execute, and manage property inventories and seismic safety inspections of critical structures and lifelines. This may include funding planning, training, field data collections and inspections, data analysis and management, report formulation, staffing, or other actionable and measurable tasks carried out in direct support of this eligible activity.
FEMA recommends the use of Rapid Visual Screening of Buildings for Potential Seismic Hazards (FEMA 154) as a methodology for quickly initiating “pre-disaster” assessments of local building stocks. Once this preliminary screening is performed and priority buildings with seismic risks have been identified, FEMA recommends a more detailed engineering assessment using the Seismic Evaluation of Existing Buildings (ASCE 31, formerly FEMA 310) methodology to identify specific vulnerabilities and targeted strategies for reducing the risks. Results from these assessments could inform the state’s hazard mitigation plan for seismic risks and support future Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program applications.
For post-disaster seismic safety inspections, FEMA recommends the use of Procedures for Postearthquake Safety Evaluation of Buildings and Addendum (ATC-20), developed by the Applied Technology Council.
If a state or territory determines this eligible activity to be a priority under its cooperative agreement, FEMA may be able to provide technical assistance or training related to FEMA 154, ASCE 31, or ATC-20 via the National Earthquake Technical Assistance Program (NETAP).
- Update building codes, zoning codes, and ordinances to enhance seismic safety
States and territories may use this funding opportunity to plan, develop, update, adopt, or communicate local building codes, zoning codes, and other community development ordinances to enhance seismic safety. This may include funding training, staffing, code development, or other actionable and measurable tasks carried out in direct support of this eligible activity.
- Increase earthquake awareness and education
States and territories may use this funding opportunity to plan, develop, and implement local earthquake awareness and education efforts. This may include funding the development of outreach or marketing plans, educational or informational materials, or online tools, as well as staffing, workshops, or other actionable and measurable tasks carried out in direct support of this eligible activity.
FEMA recommends that states and territories consider the earthquake publications, tools, and training resources already available on the FEMA.gov and NEHRP.gov web sites prior to or when developing local earthquake awareness and educational materials. FEMA also recommends strong integration of risk-reduction messaging into all or most of the projects proposed under this eligible activity.
- Encourage the development of local consortia for eligible purposes
States and territories may use this funding opportunity to establish and maintain local groups, advisory boards, or committees that can provide measurable support for local earthquake safety efforts or any of the other eligible activities listed above. This may include funding staffing, documentation, meeting logistics, travel, or other actionable and measurable tasks carried out in direct support of this eligible activity. For additional guidance, consult Creating a Seismic Safety Advisory Board (FEMA 266).
Available Funding and Eligible Applicants
The states and territories selected to participate in this program, their requirements under the program, and their funding allocations are determined based on a combination of statutory and regulatory requirements, program priorities, available funding, and consideration of risk information gathered from the U.S. Geological Survey National Seismic Hazard Maps, the International Residential Code Seismic Design Categories, and HAZUS-MH Estimated Annualized Earthquake Losses for the United States (FEMA 366).
Cooperative agreements have been chosen as the funding mechanism for this state assistance program because eligible recipients are identified based on seismic risk levels. Also, cooperative agreements provide an appropriate framework for ensuring continuous dialogue, increased partnership, and mutual cooperation between FEMA and the recipients aimed at understanding local risks, implementing sound seismic risk reduction strategies, and effectively completing approved activities.
- State Earthquake Contacts: State personnel responsible for managing and implementing the NEHRP Earthquake State Assistance Program and other local activities supporting earthquake risk reduction.
- FEMA Regional Earthquake Contacts: Personnel in FEMA regional offices responsible for coordinating, collaborating with, and supporting state partners in the implementation of NEHRP Earthquake State Assistance Program cooperative agreements and other earthquake risk reduction activities.
- FEMA Headquarters Program Manager: Official responsible for overall nationwide oversight and coordination of the NEHRP Earthquake State Assistance Program.