The City of Virginia Beach, the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local corporate and nonprofit partners signed an agreement Thursday, March 23 to create a disaster resistant community. The Project Impact signing ceremony was held at the site of Hurricane Expo 2000 in the main theatre and lobby of the Virginia Beach Pavilion.
"Project Impact is a FEMA initiative designed to increase local disaster resistance before disaster strikes." FEMA Region III Director Rita Calvan said.
The document signed at the ceremony outlines activities that each party will take to reduce the community's vulnerability to disaster. About 50 local businesses and organizations signed the agreement. It also establishes the Virginia Beach Project Impact Partnership, which can expand to accommodate as many groups and businesses that want to participate.
As part of the Hurricane Expo, a safe room was constructed outside on the sidewalk to show arriving visitors what they can build to protect themselves from violent weather. Also, in the adjoining House and Garden Show, one exhibit contained a Hurricane House, which showed homeowners the steps they can take to protect themselves from wind storms.
FEMA named Virginia Beach a Project Impact Community in December 1998, the second site chosen in the commonwealth. The first was the Roanoke Valley. Most recently, in November 1999, the commonwealth chose the City of Chesapeake as the third Virginia Project Impact Community.