The BRIC DTA Initiative: Collaborating with Communities and Tribal Nations for More Resilient Rebuilding

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Camille Crain grew up in a small town of 900 people in rural western Kentucky. She now works as the section chief for FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program. Below, she shares the importance of making sure every community, no matter how small, has the resources it needs to be resilient. 

Ensuring all communities have the resources to build resilience to natural hazards is a FEMA priority. As part of these efforts, we’ve developed the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Direct Technical Assistance initiative (BRIC DTA). This initiative provides free support to any local government entity or Tribal nation and focuses on underserved communities that are often hit harder by natural disasters and the effects of climate change. 

The agency is focused on removing barriers to funding access, especially for disadvantaged communities. As BRIC DTA support increased, the initiative has grown from serving eight communities the first year to 74 communities in the third year. The goal will be to reach at least 80 new communities and Tribal nations this year. By addressing this challenge, FEMA is creating a more equitable and inclusive process for communities to access resources and support for building resilience. 

This continued collaboration is essential for ensuring a holistic approach to resilience building with underserved communities and Tribal nations. By advancing local objectives and closing capability gaps, FEMA is enhancing the nation’s resilience to natural hazards. 

One of these beneficiaries can be found in America’s heartland. The Village of DePue, Illinois, is an economically disadvantaged rural community and the first beneficiary of BRIC DTA to have a mitigation project selected in the BRIC National Competition.  The Village of DePue has been selected to receive $23 million in funding from the fiscal year (FY) 2022 BRIC grant cycle.

In 2008, heavy rain flooded DePue’s roads, leading to sewage backup in homes due to the overwhelmed wastewater treatment plant. Village leaders plan to build a new wastewater treatment plant on property outside flood prone areas, and the old plant will be torn down to create open space. 

The two north-south levee sections will be flattened, turning the area into a riverside (or riparian) habitat, while a pair of lift stations will be constructed to move wastewater into the new treatment plant. All floors and doorways in the new structures will be built to modern building standards.

Eligibility and Requesting Assistance

Communities and Tribal nations wanting to improve their ability and readiness to create fair and comprehensive solutions for dealing with hazards are encouraged to request assistance. 

Across all 10 FEMA regions, there are 46 communities and 28 Tribal nations receiving BRIC DTA support. Of which, 39 are rural and economically disadvantaged. 

Activities eligible for BRIC DTA include comprehensive planning and capacity-building support, community engagement and communications, partnerships, and various technical assistance activities. These activities aim to support the development of mitigation options, project planning, design and implementation for BRIC-funded projects. Additionally, general assistance is provided with applying for and managing grants.

Examples of BRIC DTA projects include:

  • General support in the areas of hazard mitigation planning, grants management and project scoping. 
  • Technical assistance and evaluation for climate risk assessment and nature-based solutions projects. 
  • Natural hazards project scoping activities such as for flooding, drought, fire, typhoon and erosion. 

To request assistance, interested applicants can complete and submit a BRIC DTA Request Form by email to BRIC Direct Technical Assistance. The form should include at least two existing or potential community partners. Local communities and Tribal nations may contact FEMA directly for their BRIC DTA submission. 

Importantly, communities and Tribal nations interested in working with FEMA for resilience don’t need a BRIC grant subapplication or award. Also, they don’t need to have a FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan, which is often required to receive certain FEMA grants.

FEMA is contributing to enhancing the nation’s resilience to natural hazards and this initiative demonstrates the scope of our mission to help people before, during and after disasters.

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