WARWICK, R.I. -- The town of Bristol has reached a major milestone. It is the first jurisdiction to submit, have approved and formally adopt a hazard mitigation plan during Rhode Island’s presidentially-declared disaster (DR-1894). The adoption follows an extensive technical assistance and outreach process coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) in response to the spring 2010 floods.
Hazard mitigation planning involves assessing risks and vulnerabilities associated with natural disasters and strategizing to develop long-term plans for protecting people and property from future hazards.
RIEMA and FEMA collaborated to provide support and technical assistance to Bristol officials who were preparing their hazard mitigation plan and continue to provide assistance to jurisdictions across the state.
“RIEMA was instrumental in connecting us with FEMA,” said Diane Williamson Bristol’s director of community development. “I was so happy when I got a call from a hazard mitigation planner who said: ‘I’m from FEMA and I’m here to help,’ that is when I had a huge sigh of relief.”
Under the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA 2K), state, tribal and local governments are required to develop a hazard mitigation plan as a condition for receiving disaster assistance. To be in compliance jurisdictions must review and update their plan every five years.
With a FEMA approved plan in place, Bristol is now eligible to receive certain types of disaster assistance including Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM), Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) and Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).
“The storm was terrible and a lot of people were impacted by the damage, but the silver lining is that there is a lot of grant money out there,” Williamson said. “Communities should take advantage of this unique opportunity to get assistance from the FEMA team, submit their plan for approval, then get in line for grant applications."
Approval of Bristol’s mitigation plan also enables the town to gain credit under the Community Rating System (CRS), an incentive program that encourages floodplain management activities that exceed National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requirements. Jurisdictions receive discounted premium rates if they meet three CRS goals: reducing flood losses, facilitating an accurate insurance rating, and promoting the awareness of flood insurance.
"Getting Bristol’s plan approved and adopted as quickly as they did is a testament to the hard work of the town’s planners, emergency managers and community," said RIEMA Executive Director J. David Smith. “We hope other communities will use Bristol as a model on how to do it right."
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.