ATLANTA, Ga. -- Jefferson County, the City of Louisville, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky are joining the Project Impact initiative begun by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to develop communities that are more resistant to disasters.
Louisville/Jefferson County becomes one of 118 communities across the United States to develop a Project Impact program. Project Impact enlists public agencies, community leaders, citizens, and businesses in a public/private partnership to devise and implement pre-disaster action plans that minimize the loss of life and property.
An agreement will be signed at Louisville's Waterfront Park, on Tuesday, June 1st at 10:30 AM. Signers include: Kentucky Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, Louisville Mayor David Armstrong, Jefferson County Judge Executive Rebecca Jackson, Kentucky Director of Emergency Management W.R. Padgett, and Michael Armstrong, Director of Mitigation for FEMA.
In an earlier statement Governor Paul Patton said, "for years we have worked with FEMA to assist communities in the state after natural disasters occurred. We're eager to work with FEMA now in advance of disasters to build stronger and safer communities in Kentucky."
FEMA regional director John Copenhaver emphasized that the partnership would target areas in the County that are prone to recurrent disasters and allow for collaborative plans with the private sector to take preventive, pre-emptive, action. " We can break the repetitive rebuilding cycle, save more lives, and prevent greater damage by acting ahead of time. That is our critical mission and Project Impact will help get us there."
Louisville was selected as the first Kentucky community to participate in the Project Impact program. Jefferson County, located on the shore of the Ohio River, contains nearly 700,000 residents including the population of Louisville. In the last quarter century, the area has been subject to tornadoes, ice storms and several floods. The County and city currently participate in other mitigation programs including the National Flood Insurance Program and the related cost-lowering Community Rating System.
Louisville/Jefferson County is recognized as a national leader in its hazard mitigation efforts. Building codes, comprehensive plans, zoning, floodplain management, and disaster preparedness efforts are a continuing priority throughout the area. The locale received a $500,000 Project Impact grant in December to help implement additional hazard mitigation programs. Other nationally recognized projects in Jefferson/Louisville include:
The LOJIC (Louisville-Jefferson Information Center) Geographical Database used to pinpoint area disaster locations A widely-praised Stormwater Management Program for floodwater drainage A Flood Compensation Banking Program that credits developers creating new wetlands or retention ponds to offset construction in the county floodplain One of the nation's strongest anti-terrorism programs Homeowner credits for the installation of Basement Backwater Valves to reduce the possibility of sewer backups, and health risks, during floods The Pond Creek Watershed Basin Project, currently in its earliest stages, which will provide eventual flood control relief for 3,000-5,000 area residents.
Copenhaver stressed that these efforts are only part of a comprehensive program to make Louisville/Jefferson County more disaster-resistant. "Project Impact promotes public awareness and individual responsibility," Copenhaver said. "As an example, our tornado safe shelter program gets very useful information into peoples hands, but then they have to use that information to protect their families."
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. In addition to hundreds of millions of dollars for specific disaster assistance, the Commonwealth of Kentucky has received mor...