AUSTIN, Texas -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded $1.4 million in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding to the State of Texas for a voluntary buyout project of 17 homes subject to recurrent flooding in the City of Baytown.
FEMA will fund 75 percent of the $1.8 million project to remove the high-risk structures from the floodplain to prevent future damages. The City of Baytown will provide the required 25 percent cost share.
All 17 property owners carried insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), administered by FEMA. All homes have flooded at least three times in the past 25 years, including nine in the Lakewood section of the city. Some have flooded four or five times. In certain cases, cumulative claims exceeded three times the Fair Market Value of the property.
Acquisition of the properties and removal of the structures will greatly reduce or eliminate the threat to life and property in Baytown . The cleared land will be allowed to return to its natural state and remain as open space in perpetuity.
After Hurricane Rita, FEMA earmarked $103.4 million in HMGP grants for Texas projects-one of the largest HMGP designations in state history. FEMA calculates the amount of HMGP funds available based on a percentage of federal assistance spent on recovery for a disaster.
FEMA received 80 HMGP applications from Texas , mostly for wind retrofits, flood control projects, drainage improvements, and the acquisition and demolition of flood-prone properties. Texas applicants include state agencies, local governments and river authorities.
Just eighteen months after Rita, the federal share of currently approved HMGP projects in Texas already tops $60 million , thanks to superior planning, preparation and administration by the Governor's Division of Emergency Management.
Under the Stafford Act, HMGP projects must provide a long-term solution to a problem and potential savings must be more than the cost of completing the project. In 2005, an independent study by the National Institute of Building Science found that, although risk from natural disasters cannot be eliminated completely, every dollar spent on mitigation can save as much as four dollars in response and recovery.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.