Long-term improvements under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, as opposed to reimbursement under recovery programs, do take time. But, by working together, Florida's Division of Emergency Management and FEMA are providing resources to communities faster than ever before.
In 2004, over a period of six weeks, Florida became the first state to be struck by four hurricanes in a single year since 1886.
Prior to Katrina, the 2004 storms represented the largest response and recovery operation in FEMA's history.
As Florida began to pick up the pieces, it became clear that business as usual would not cut it.
In May 2005, FEMA established the Florida Long-Term Recovery Office (FLTRO) to strengthen the agency's partnership with the state and facilitate a coordinated innovative approach to disasters.
With a record $359 million available following the 2004 hurricanes and more than 800 applications, on HMGP, that meant a joint review process.
The Process: HMGP in a Nutshell
Under HMGP, FEMA, in partnership with states, makes funding available to local governments and certain other organizations to undertake projects designed to lessen the risk of damage from disasters. The HMGP is administered by the state, with projects funded 75 percent by FEMA and 25 percent from other sources.
In Florida, local mitigation strategy committees establish funding priorities for the HMGP and select projects based on those priorities.
HMGP projects go through a six-step process:
- Step 1 - State sets priorities and application deadlines
- Step 2 - State, in partnership with FEMA, conducts applicant briefings
- Step 3 - Applicants submit project applications to the State, who selects projects for funding
- Step 4 - State and FEMA conduct joint review, which includes:
- Review for program eligibility - essentially meant to answer the question: "Does this project solve a problem HMGP is meant to address?"
- Technical feasibility and cost effectiveness review, conducted by engineering review team
- Environmental coordination and compliance review, which encompasses a number of issues, such as:
- Historic preservation concerns
- Environmental concerns including wetlands and endangered species
- Flood plain implications
- Step 5 - If reviews are satisfactory, FEMA obligates dollars to the State for approved projects
- Step 6 - State informs applicant of approval (allowing applicants to draw down funding) and project implementation begins
Action Items at All Levels: Local, State, FEMA
The key to disaster response and recovery - including long-term improvements, such as mitigation - is a strong partnership between local, state, and federal partners. On HMGP, there are action items at all levels, including:
Applicants (local level):
- Submit individual project applications to the State
- Coordinate with participating homeowners and businesses who will benefit from the proposed project
- Draw down obligated dollars from the State and manage implementation of the approved project
- Comply with all applicable requirements, including environmental regulations
- Account for the appropriate use of grants to the State
- Maintain records
- Develop the State Hazard Mitigation Plan
- Establish funding priorities, and select projects for funding based on those priorities
- Establish deadlines for applications
- Conduct applicant briefings and provide technical assistance to applicants
- Ensure that the scope of work complies with all applicable requirements under H...