Boston, MA -- The City of Norwich, Connecticut joined a select list of communities across the country when it was chosen by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to become part of the agency's Project Impact: Building Disaster Resistant Communities.
Project Impact, an initiative launched by FEMA in 1997, works with state and local governments to build more disaster resistant communities. The partnership will unite FEMA, the Connecticut Office of Emergency Management, the City of Norwich local government, citizens and business leaders in a combined effort to envision and implement strategies designed to lessen future disaster loss.
"We are delighted to be part of a program that will build on our existing efforts to lessen future repetitive losses and damages. It is extremely important to protect the lives and property of Norwich residents from the disruption that is associated with disasters," said John Wiltse, Director of the Connecticut Office of Emergency Management.
Norwich located in southeastern Connecticut is vulnerable to many hazards, including earthquakes, chemical spills, dam failures and repeated losses due to wind, coastal flooding and ice. Although twenty miles in from Long Island Sound, Norwich has a coastal harbor in addition to three large rivers (Thames, Yantic and Shetucket) with many tributaries. Over the past 20 years, the area's residents and businesses have had to recover from coastal flooding in the harbor and downtown area of the City due to storm surges associated with hurricanes, Nor'easters, and severe storms.
While we can't stop disasters from happening, communities like Norwich and others in New England can have taken steps to implement preventive mitigation measures long before disasters strike," said Setti D. Warren, Regional Director of FEMA's office in Boston.
Prior to joining Project Impact, the City of Norwich has been working with the Army Corps of Engineers, to develop flood mitigation plans, and adopt floodplain regulations.
In the past 10 years, FEMA has spent more than $25 billion to help repair and rebuild disaster-stricken areas. Project Impact's goal is to erase the ceaseless damage-repair-damage cycle by implementing preventive measures before disaster strikes.
"I'm pleased to incorporate the City of Norwich into the Project Impact effort," said FEMA Director James Lee Witt. "This initiative has demonstrated that prevention works, and Project Impact will continue to help Norwich businesses and residents shift their focus from simply responding to disasters to taking actions in advance to stop the devastating property damage and loss of life."
Project Impact corporate and community partners assist with monetary aid, in-kind services, technical support and labor to aid in implementing disaster-resistant measures. FEMA provides technical, administrative and financial support.
Since its inception in 1997, over 200 communities and 2,500 business partners have embraced Project Impact. Instead of waiting for disasters to occur, Project Impact communities initiate mentoring relationships, private and public partnerships, public outreach and disaster mitigation projects to reduce potentially devastating disasters. Previous community projects have included creating disaster resistance strategies, revising local building and land use codes, and passing bond issues to construct prevention measures that will impact the entire community.