BILOXI, Miss. -- As families, businesses and communities rebuild across Mississippi, they can make their future more secure by rebuilding wisely.
Hazard mitigation is any sustained action taken to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to life and property from a hazard event. In other words, it’s the practice of preparing property to withstand the impact of future disasters.
Hazard mitigation projects apply tried and true strategies to building practices to reduce or eliminate the impact of hazard events. Far from simply rebuilding a community’s infrastructure back to its pre-disaster condition, mitigation techniques make the property safer and stronger. This saves the community money and time in the aftermath of future disasters and helps prevent much of the disruption associated with disasters.
Across the state, money for mitigation projects is at work. The cities of Gulfport and Biloxi were each awarded grants for more than $100,000 from the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency administers these funds. HMGP funds are activated following a disaster declaration and can be used to fund projects to protect either public or private property. The project must fit within the state’s and local governments’ overall mitigation strategy and comply with HMGP guidelines. Seventy-seven Mississippi counties have developed and received FEMA approval for their hazard mitigation plans.
A study by the Multihazard Mitigation Council, part of the National Institute of Building Sciences, shows that every $1 paid toward mitigation saves an average of $4 in future disaster-related costs. Here are four examples of home mitigation techniques:
- Install roof sheathing properly. Roof sheathing (the boards or plywood nailed to the roof rafter or trusses) can fail during a hurricane if not properly installed. Examine the sheathing from the attic. If many of the nails have missed the rafters, the sheathing may need to be re-nailed. If applying a new roof, make sure the sheathing complies with current recommended practices. The use of hurricane clips can help stabilize and reinforce the rafters and sheathing.
- Make sure end gables (the side walls of the roof) are securely fastened to the rest of the roof. If end gables do not appear to be braced, use a licensed contractor to install bracing. Ask the local building department if a building permit is required for this work.
- Protect windows by installing storm shutters. Purchase or make storm shutters for all exposed windows, glass surfaces, French doors, sliding doors and skylights. Many types of manufactured shutters are made from wood, steel or aluminum. Storm shutters can also be made from 5/8-inch thick exterior grade plywood.
- Fasten the roof to the walls with hurricane straps. Hurricane straps (made of galvanized metal) help keep the roof fastened to the walls in high winds. They can be difficult to install, so a contractor may be needed for this project.
Disasters can occur anytime during the year. Rebuilding wisely now for a safer, more secure future could make the difference.
For more information on mitigation best practices or proper rebuilding techniques for homes, property or businesses, visit the FEMA website at www.fema.gov and click on ‘Recover and Rebuild.’
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.