MADISON, Miss. -- Madison today takes a giant step toward becoming a safer home to thousands of central Mississippi residents when this growing city formalizes its commitment as a partner in the nationwide Project Impact initiative.
A coalition of federal, state, and local agencies, businesses, and other public and private sector entities will assemble for a signing ceremony that recognizes the city's role in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) program that is designed to "Build A Disaster Resistant Community."
Project Impact is designed to enhance hazard mitigation projects that significantly lessen the threat to lives and property posed by severe storms and flooding. Its overall goal is make the city a safe-haven for both its residents and commercial interests.
A local partnership of wide-ranging public-private participants, shored by federal and state support, will seek to identify areas now vulnerable to recurrent disasters, then develop proactive plans to reduce potential disaster-related losses.
Planning could include fortifying buildings against high winds, elevating or relocating frequently flooded properties or utilities, improving hazard alert warning systems, and promoting community disaster awareness. FEMA will participate in funding such projects.
The partnership document will be signed today in from of the caboose on Main Street. Signatories include U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, who will keynote the occasion; FEMA Regional Director John B. Copenhaver; Director Robert Latham of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA); and Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler. Other state, local, and private sector partners will be on hand.
Madison becomes the second community in Mississippi to develop a Project Impact program, which was authored in 1997 by FEMA Director James Lee Witt in a drive to end the repetitive loss cycle that has cost taxpayers billions of dollars in recent years. Pascagoula was the first Mississippi city to join the program.
Copenhaver called Madison "one of the most progressive cities in Mississippi by recognizing the importance of reducing disaster risks. He said the impact will be the strengthening of the community's ability to reach a broad range of resources and experience to effect the necessary life-saving, dollar-trimming precautions."
MEMA Director Latham said the initiative "represents a real partnership commitment, in dollars, time, and energy." He added that it "will enable the entire community to participate in reducing the tremendous costs associated with potential disasters, especially in the tax-draining arena of repetitive losses."
"One of the great benefits of this initiative is that it's cost-effective," explained Latham. He pointed out that since joining the National Flood Insurance Program, Mississippi residents and businesses have received more than $115 million in NFIP payments for repetitive damage to their structural and personal properties. Payments, that is, for damage created a second or third time around as a result of subsequent disasters.
The rapidly growing Madison area is vulnerable to repetitive flooding because of its location within the watersheds of three major creeks. In 1996 the city began a long-range program to anticipate flood hazards, including the formation of a mitigation council and the development of one of the state's first local plans for hazard mitigation. The city also has one of the nation's first Urban Natural Resources Conservation plans, and is noted for pursuing efforts in behalf of both the quality of life and environment.
Madison has participated in the NFIP since 1980. Existing flood and stormwater prevention programs have earned a saving of 5 percent for its residents on most flood insurance policies via the Community Rating System.
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