Jackson, MS -- If your home or business was damaged in northeast Mississippi as a result of the May 5th through 8th severe storms, tornado and high winds, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) recommend that you take steps in rebuilding to minimize the harm that could come in a future disaster.
FEMA offers free technical advice on construction and rebuilding techniques to make your property safer and less vulnerable to violent weather events and even earthquakes. In some cases, federal financial assistance may be available under FEMA's hazard mitigation program.
"As part of federal and state recovery efforts, FEMA and MEMA work closely with community leaders to help people find the best ways to stay safe and minimize damages from future disasters," said Carlos Mitchell, FEMA federal coordinating officer. "Safety, of course, is the primary goal of mitigation, but it also has proven to be cost effective."
FEMA encourages property owners in flood hazard areas to consider elevating structures above established flood elevations, and to move furnaces, pumps, water heaters, circuit breakers and other essential equipment higher where possible. Installing back-flow check valves, modifying structures or building a retaining wall can also make a difference.
The U.S. Small Business Administration says loan amounts may be increased by 20 percent for employing these measures to mitigate against damage to real property.
Mississippi is frequently a target of tornadoes. FEMA recommends, when rebuilding after a flood or tornado, property owners tie the foundation, wall and roof components together as a single unit for strength against destructive winds. They should also incorporate fortified spaces called "safe rooms" that provide life-saving shelter from threatening storms. Plans for such rooms in various types of structures are available in FEMA Publication 320 "Taking Shelter From the Storm." A free copy can be obtained by calling FEMA at 1-888-565-3896.
"The prevention of repetitive storm damage/reconstruction is the purpose of the hazard mitigation program that is now incorporated in every disaster effort," said State Coordinating Officer Leon Shaifer. "A few dollars spent now could result in thousands saved in the future."
Communities across the nation are becoming more disaster resistant with financial help from states and FEMA, which allocates 7.5 percent of its spending on a specific disaster back to the state for mitigation projects.