CROSS LANES, W. Va. -- An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Following this adage, West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are working together on actions to reduce future flood damages. This effort is part of FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) which provides federal grants to states, local governments and Indian tribes for long-term hazard mitigation projects after a major disaster declaration.
Following mid-April flooding, 18 counties in West Virginia were declared eligible for Public Assistance funding to repair damaged infrastructure. Supplementing this assistance are HMGP funds, available statewide for projects designed to reduce the loss of life and property in future disasters by funding mitigation measures during the recovery phase of a natural disaster.
HMGP funds can be used to make improvements to public or private property. A project must provide a long-term solution to a specific risk. Projects funded by HMGP include:
- Elevating flood prone homes or businesses. The structure is rebuilt with a higher first floor. This allows floodwater to flow under the house rather than through it.
- Acquisition (and demolition or relocation) of flood prone homes of willing owners. The owner receives a check for the pre-disaster value of their home and property and the local government becomes the owner of the now-vacant land.
- Retrofitting buildings to minimize damage from earthquakes, high winds, flooding and other hazards. FEMA and other organizations have worked to develop model code requirements and building guides to aid in the process.
The state administers the HMGP program. Local communities identify specific projects that could reduce property damage and submit a grant application to the state. The state selects projects to fund based on its mitigation priorities. "As we recover from the flooding, mitigation is central to our efforts,"said State Coordinating Officer Jimmy Gianato. "We're working closely with FEMA to reduce the potential for damages from future disasters."
"Mitigation is a key component to disaster recovery,"said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Tom Costello. "Investing in mitigation measures reduces future losses, saves money and makes a community safer."
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.