By Matthew Russell, External Affairs Officer
For the first time, FEMA and New York State have posted an applicant’s guide to regulatory compliance during disaster recovery online in an effort to save money, conserve resources and put important information at the applicants’ fingertips.
“There’s a certain irony to printing hundreds of copies of an 18-page ‘environmental guide,’” said FEMA Bill Watrel, deputy federal coordinating officer. “So, we decided to ‘go green’ with the Greenbook and use technology to save money and speed the delivery of vital environmental information to the people who need it most.”
In the wake of a disaster declaration following severe storms in June and July, hundreds of local government entities statewide have applied for Public Assistance to repair critical public infrastructure. Those applicants needed “The Greenbook,” a disaster-specific guide to environmental and historic preservation compliance for villages, towns, counties and state agencies undertaking repair projects.
Together, New York State and FEMA decided to post the Greenbook Guide to Environmental & Historic Preservation online rather than distributing printed copies to each applicant. “All disasters involve their own unique environmental and historical preservation considerations,” said Environmental and Historic Preservation Manager Michael Hale.
Beyond providing general compliance guidance and best management practices, this version of the Greenbook details the unique challenges New York faces as it rebuilds, Hale noted. For example, the Greenbook has guidelines for dealing with the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive insect, and how to protect critical habitat for endangered species like the Karner Blue butterfly, the Bog turtle and the Indiana bat.
In addition to the cost savings from online publishing, the technology assures that an applicant’s Greenbook won’t be lost or left behind somewhere – it will always be available on the state’s website.