MOBILE, Ala. -- Government and business leaders from Baldwin and Mobile counties, the City of Bayou La Batre and the Town of Dauphin Island will formally agree on Friday to become part of a select federal program designed to help them become more disaster-resistant.
Plagued by a history of floods and severe weather disasters, these communities will commit to participate in Project Impact, an initiative developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to encourage public and private sector actions to reduce future loss of life and property from the ravages of nature.
The formal, public signing ceremony between FEMA and the participants will take place at USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile at 11:30 a.m. on April 30, 1999. Several national, regional and state officials are scheduled to make remarks during the event. They include Alabama Lt. Governor Steve Windom, Lee Helms, acting assistant director of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) and FEMA deputy director Mike Walker.
"These communities have already demonstrated remarkable efforts toward mitigating the potential damage of future storms," said John Copenhaver, regional director of FEMA. "In Project Impact they join other storm-endangered communities across the nation working to reduce their disaster vulnerability."
"We know that for every dollar we spend toward mitigation efforts, we save at least two dollars in the future," said Lee Helms. "The state of Alabama is proud to join FEMA and these communities as a Project Impact partner."
The signing ceremony cements the mutual agreement among the participating governments and private sector sponsors establishing a formal partnership to create sustainable communities resistant to the human and economic toll caused by disasters.
Project Impact selects participants to honor a history of mitigation efforts in high risk communities. The South Alabama Hazard Mitigation Planning Team has been working for the past few years to develop the Tri-County Hazard Mitigation Plan which is staffed by the South Alabama Regional Planning Council.
Since 1990, Alabama has received more than $16.5 million from FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) for storm protection measures. Baldwin and Mobile counties received $4.3 million of these funds for acquisition and elevation of properties.
Both Baldwin and Mobile counties share similarities with many moderate-sized, flood-prone communities at risk from hurricanes and riverine flooding. Since 1969, the Mobile Bay area has been included in 11 presidential disaster declarations as a result of hurricanes, severe storms resulting in flooding and at least one winter storm. The area suffered severe damage from Hurricane Frederick in 1979 and Hurricane Danny in 1997.
Mobile and Baldwin counties are currently recovering from Hurricane Georges which struck in September 1998. The Mobile Bay area is the 12th largest port in the nation with heavy commercial and industry activity. The Environmental Defense Fund rates the Mobile Bay area among the 10 areas in the nation for highest risk of hazardous materials spills due to the industrial development along the bay shores and the transshipment of goods through the port. Historic districts, beaches and wildlife sanctuaries support increased tourism and a swelling population.
Project Impact involves a public-private collaborative effort to shift emphasis from recovery to prevention and preparedness in order to minimize the impact of disasters on people and property. This is known as hazard mitigation. Both counties have already undertaken several projects to protect or buyout homes from repetitive flooding.
In the last five years, FEMA has responded to nearly 5,000 disasters in 49 states and spent nearly $14 billion in federal disaster relief.
LOCATION OF USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park The park is located at 2703 Bat...