GLEN ALLEN, Va. -- Planning in advance of a disaster is important for any community, first because planning helps avoid spending large amounts of money on rebuilding and repairs. But even more important, it can save lives.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers assistance for pre-disaster mitigation in the form of grants to eligible governments and non-profit organizations, and will provide information to anyone anxious to protect life and property during a disaster. Funds are made available through the FEMA administered Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) program.
So far this year, $27.5 million in PDM funds have been made available nationally for mitigation planning and projects, dissemination of mitigation information, and mitigation management.
“Pre-disaster mitigation funding is offered nationwide and is awarded on a competitive basis,” said Gracia Szczech, federal coordinating officer for recovery operations in Virginia. “It helps states and communities implement long-term plans that will moderate their need for federal funds after a disaster.”
The Commonwealth successfully competed, receiving a PDM award through the FY 2006 FEMA PDM program. The award went to the University of Virginia to develop a “Disaster Resistant University” all-hazards mitigation plan.
The PDM program has a 75 percent federal/25 percent non-federal cost-share. However, small impoverished communities may be eligible for up to a 90 percent federal cost-share.
Disaster mitigation includes programs such as elevating structures to reduce the potential for flood damage in the future or retrofitting buildings, roads and infrastructure to lower the chances of serious damage. Applicants for PDM grants are state governments. Sub-applicants of the state may include local governments, state agencies, federally-recognized tribes and organizations, and public colleges and universities. States have the discretion to provide assistance to relevant private organizations as well. Both applicants and sub-applicants must have a FEMA-approved mitigation plan in order to receive a project grant. Help in preparing the plan is available.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities; works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.