WARWICK, R.I. -- The close collaboration between the city of Pawtucket and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has helped prepare the city for possible future disasters.
FEMA Hazard Mitigation Planning experts continue to reach out proactively to Rhode Island planners and emergency managers, including Pawtucket officials and are providing them with technical assistance on updating their community's hazard mitigation plan.
"Dealing with floods, that is something you don't do all the time in Rhode Island," said Robert Howe, city of Pawtucket emergency manager. "Any time you have FEMA in the house that is a good thing.
"Even if a problem cannot be fixed by FEMA, they will point you in the right direction and I find that comforting."
Having a hazard mitigation plan in place provides strategies to prevent or minimize loss of life and property. A well thought out plan is also required for a community's eligibility for three hazard mitigation programs, including FEMA's Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM), Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) and Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).
The city of Pawtucket, along with all Rhode Island cities and towns, will be required under federal law to make comprehensive updates to its Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan every five years. Approval of a community's mitigation plan enables the community to gain credit under the FEMA Community Rating System (CRS) program, which provides discounts on National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) premiums.
At the onset of the presidentially declared disaster in Rhode Island on March 29, 2010, FEMA Mitigation Planners began reaching out to communities to offer technical assistance. As of July 7, 2010, FEMA planners have consulted with the Narragansett Indian Tribe and all 39 communities in the Ocean State on their plans.
After hearing how FEMA assisted a neighboring community, city officials in Pawtucket asked the agency for its support.
FEMA mitigation planners met with Pawtucket's emergency manager, grants management assistant, and assistant director of planning and redevelopment, to provide guidance on Pawtucket's mitigation plan.
When analyzing plans submitted for review across the nation, FEMA mitigation representatives identified four processes that are problem areas in mitigation plans: planning process, mitigation strategy, risk assessment and plan maintenance.
- Planning process—the community is required to document how the public—including neighboring communities, agencies and businesses—was involved in the planning process.
- Mitigation strategy—inclusion of new, completed, deleted or deferred mitigation actions as a benchmark for progress and, if activities are unchanged, why no changes were made.
- Plan maintenance—requires a description on how the community was kept involved during the plan maintenance process and how the plan was implemented.
- Risk assessment—includes identifying and profiling hazards and assessing vulnerabilities.
Pawtucket planning and emergency management officials found FEMA's guidance valuable.
"We are going to include anything and everything suggested by FEMA in our plan," said Jennifer Kilsey, grants management assistant in the city of Pawtucket's Department of Planning and Redevelopment. "We can take FEMA's suggestions and piggyback it onto what we currently have."
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.