WESTFIELD, Mass. -- Following Tropical Storm Irene’s destructive path through western Massachusetts in late August, officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) want to inform all recovering municipalities and nonprofit organizations that there may be additional funding available to reduce or prevent future flood damage.
“FEMA officials are meeting with local and state officials in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties to assess flood damage to public facilities, such as roads and bridges,” says Mark H. Landry, Federal Coordinating Officer. “FEMA mitigation specialists are also members of these teams, providing suggestions on how to re-build better, safer and smarter with additional cost-effective mitigation measures.”
This additional hazard mitigation funding is provided through Section 406 of the federal law which authorizes FEMA to respond to disasters – the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. Mitigation is any long-term, sustained measure or action which reduces future damages and other impacts of a hazard on people, structures and the environment.
“Local officials are urged to consider actions that can be taken during the repair of their damaged facilities to make them more flood resilient,” Landry added. “Officials should make their FEMA Project Officer aware of possible mitigation projects,”
FEMA may reimburse the cost of public facilities mitigation projects up to 75% with the state and local entities sharing the remaining 25%. Under the Section 406 mitigation program, additional mitigation measures which reduce future damages may be added to the total cost of an eligible project.
"Mitigation programs have to be looked at as an investment with a significant return. By allowing local officials the opportunity to reduce the risk of damage to their infrastructure, we save dollars in the long term," said State Coordinating Officer Kurt Schwartz with MEMA.
Examples of mitigation projects under this Section 406 post-disaster mitigation program include: upsizing culverts to prevent clogging; using geo-synthetic materials in road repairs which prevent future erosion and decreases maintenance costs; elevating utilities above the base flood level in critical facilities; flood proofing and/or elevation of eligible, substantially damaged buildings.
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.