BILOXI, Miss. -- A year ago, while Mississippi was still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, only 2 percent of the state had drawn up mitigation plans to protect lives and prevent or reduce loss of property from natural disasters. The August 2005 storm was a harsh mistress of experience; it served up a lesson about what can happen without preparing for a worst-case scenario. With the past as teacher of extremes, 50 percent of the geographical area of the state has now adopted approved mitigation plans, becoming better prepared for a possible devastating storm or other severe weather event.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides guidelines for mitigation planning and makes funds available through its Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) to assist the state with ongoing planning needs. The goal is for the entire state to have hazard mitigation plans.
In other news:
As of Nov. 3, 2006, FEMA has obligated more than $9.3 billion in disaster aid to Mississippi since Katrina struck. The agency continues to work closely with applicants, local and state organizations and voluntary agencies in helping to rebuild the state after the hurricane disaster.
Approximately $1.1 billion has been approved in the following Public Assistance (PA) categories (not including debris removal). To date, Mississippi has disbursed more than $900 million to PA applicants for rebuilding projects including bridges, public buildings and utilities. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency administers the funds.
- $318 million for emergency protective measures;
- $367 million to repair public facilities;
- $295 million to restore public utilities;
- $56 million to restore public recreational facilities such as state parks;
- $29 million to repair roads and bridges;
- $1.6 million to repair water control devices such as reservoirs and irrigation channels.
Grants also are being approved and disbursed through the following programs:
Approximately $1.3 billion to individuals and families:
- 216,375 individuals and families have been approved for Housing Assistance totaling nearly $845 million;
- 133,818 Mississippi Katrina survivors have been approved for $410 million in Other Needs Assistance.
More than $1.3 billion has been approved for land-based debris removal. About $231 million will be disbursed for marine debris removal:
- Approximately 45 million cubic yards of eligible land-based debris has been removed from public and private property in 79 of 82 counties;
- FEMA has given a six-month extension for the removal of land-based debris in the inundated areas of the three coastal counties;
- The U.S. Coast Guard has cleared about 34,000 cubic yards or about 3 percent of marine debris. Marine debris removal will be 100 percent federally funded until May 15, 2007.
- About $2.5 billion was paid by FEMA through its National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to 17,068 policy holders;
- Nearly $3 billion was paid by FEMA to other federal agencies to complete specific tasks or mission assignments during response and recovery such as emergency medical assistance and debris removal;
- As of Nov. 3, 2006 there were 32,799 temporary housing units (travel trailers and mobile homes) in service. These units are being returned to FEMA at an average of 250 units per week.
Mississippians displaced by Katrina have occupied more than 49,000 travel trailers and mobile homes. Some families have occupied multiple units. Since the first unit was occupied Sept. 11, 2005, more than 15,500 units have been vacated.
In addition, nearly $2.6 billion in U.S. Sma...