ATLANTA, Ga. -- Recovery from the May 11-12 storms and tornadoes won't be complete until state and local officials consider how to help prevent or to minimize losses in a future disaster. So say the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which offer mitigation assistance through a variety of programs.
In Georgia, grant programs include: Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA), and Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM). These grant programs provide funds to state agencies and local governments for projects that reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to human life and property from the effects of natural hazards.
Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP)
HMGP is activated when the president declares a disaster. The amount of dollars available for mitigation equals 15 percent of the amount FEMA spends to assist disaster victims and communities in the recovery process. Under HMGP, federal funds pay for 75 percent of the project cost with 25 percent coming from non-federal sources.
"The state's top priority for HMGP is to fund projects in the declared counties that reduce or eliminate damages to life and property resulting from high winds and tornadoes," said GEMA Deputy State Coordinating Officer, Joe McKinney.
HMGP money has helped fund Georgia's NOAA weather radio network - more than two dozen transmitters that cover more than 98 percent of the state.
Other projects could include safe rooms for public or private structures, voluntary acquisition of real property for conversion to open space, retrofitting measures such as elevation in place, structural relocation, structural reinforcement, strapping of utilities and installation of storm shutters.
Applicants who may be eligible to apply for Hazard Mitigation Grants are public agencies, including state and local governments; certain private non-profit organizations or institutions that provide essential services to the general public.
Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA)
The FMA program is designed to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk of flooding to structures insured through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). FEMA provides FMA funds to assist states and communities to implement mitigation measures that reduce or eliminate the long-term risk of flood damage to buildings, manufactured homes, and other structures insurable under the NFIP. States are encouraged to prioritize FMA funds for applications that include repetitive loss properties. Reduced risks will reduce the number of claims paid through the program. The grant is funded by premiums, not taxpayer dollars.
Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM)
The PDM program provides funds to states and communities for hazard mitigation planning and the implementation of mitigation projects prior to a disaster event. Some of the projects can include community safe rooms, drainage, and property elevation. Funding these plans and projects reduces overall risks to the population and structures, while also reducing reliance on funding from actual disaster declarations.
"Each of these hazard mitigation grants will help make communities safer," said Jeff Bryant, federal coordinating officer for the Georgia disaster. "Mitigation programs are also designed to reduce the financial impact of disasters on states and on the nation."
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.