Charleston, WV -- Since the floods of 2001 and 2002 nearly $16 million has flowed into West Virginia communities as a part of a state and federal mitigation program. Under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the West Virginia Office of Emergency Services (WVOES) have bought out 329 properties in flood prone areas.
"Mitigation is the cornerstone of emergency management," said Louis Botta, FEMA federal coordinating officer. "It's the ongoing effort to lessen the impact disasters have on people and property."
For the 2001 flooding, the acquisition of 294 properties totals nearly $13.5 million -- over 80 percent of the HMGP funds available. Funds for HMGP for the 2002 flooding are currently being processed with $2.2 million obligated so far to acquire 35 properties.
Interest in buy-out programs is particularly strong in West Virginia. The President's Day winter storm disaster will generate about another $1.5 million in mitigation funding. The state is also seeking additional funding from FEMA's Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program.
FEMA's HMGP aims to lessen future flood losses by several means, including the acquisition of flood-prone homes from willing sellers. The state administers the program, which is activated when a presidential disaster declaration is made. Under the program, interested communities develop project proposals and submit them to the state for review and prioritization. The state then sends the projects to FEMA to be reviewed for environmental soundness and cost effectiveness. Generally, FEMA pays 75 percent of the project cost. In West Virginia, the state funds the entire remaining 25 percent.