LINCROFT, N.J. -- Emergency response. Debris removal. Reconstruction and repair. Rental assistance. Low-cost disaster loans. These activities and terms have become familiar to many New Jerseyans since Superstorm Sandy struck last year. But another activity is going full force with the purpose of protecting life and property from future disasters – hazard mitigation.
Hazard mitigation is the only phase of emergency management specifically dedicated to breaking the cycle of damage, reconstruction and repeated damage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) provides assistance to state and local governments after a major disaster declaration to enable mitigation measures to be implemented during disaster recovery.
“Hazard Mitigation grants help make communities safer,” said FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer in New Jersey, Gracia Szczech. “Mitigation programs also help reduce the financial impact of disasters on the state and on the county.”
Eligible applicants for HMGP grants are states, local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations. Individual homeowners and businesses may not apply directly to the program, but local governments may apply on their behalf.
These grants can be used to fund projects that protect public or private property if the project fits within state and local mitigation plans. Projects eligible for HMGP funds include retrofitting buildings to minimize damage from high winds and flooding; elevation of flood-prone buildings; minor flood-control projects; and the purchase of property at risk of repetitive flooding for conversion to open space. The state works with local communities to determine the focus of the Hazard Mitigation program.
FEMA has obligated $340.7 million in Hazard Mitigation grants after Sandy for New Jersey’s mitigation measures, which include:
- $100 million for the acquisition of structures in flood-prone areas to be cleared and converted to permanent greenspace;
- $100 million for elevation of buildings in flood-prone areas; and $3.8 million for county mitigation plans
The state is applying the remaining grant money for mitigation measures being incorporated into eligible rebuilding projects of state and local agencies, and certain private nonprofit organizations, such as hospitals and universities.
Five issues are considered when determining the eligibility of a proposed project:
- Does the project conform to the state’s hazard mitigation plan?
- Does the project provide a beneficial impact on the disaster area?
- Does the application meet the environmental requirements?
- Does the project solve a problem independently?
- Is the project cost effective?
Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding is made available at the request of a state’s governor following the declaration of a major disaster. The grant funds available for mitigation equal 15 percent of the amount FEMA spends to assist disaster survivors 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. All programs require an up-to-date Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Video-links: Sea Bright Mitigation
Next week the One Year Later releases will feature examples of a business owner and a homeowner who applied mitigation techniques to their property at their own cost, which, in the aftermath of Sandy, proved to be a sound investment.
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.
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