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State Assistance Program and Other FEMA Grants

Background & Authorities

State Assistance Program Process

Eligibility & Funding

Guidance, Reports & Best Practices

FEMA administers several grant programs intended to reduce the risks to people and property posed by natural hazards. Although these programs are not dedicated exclusively to earthquakes, they can be valuable sources of funding for risk reduction efforts targeting earthquakes or earthquakes and other hazards at state or local levels.

Below is information about the state assistance program, including current eligibility and application guidance.

See Other FEMA FEMA Grant Programs

State Assistance

The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Earthquake State Assistance Program was created to increase and enhance the effective implementation of earthquake risk reduction at the local level.

Background And Authorities

As authorized by the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977 (Public Law 95–124), as amended in 2004 (Public Law 108-360) and as required by the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Reauthorization Act of 2018 (Public Law 115–307), it is the mission of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in cooperation with other agencies participating in National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), "to reduce the risks of life and property from future earthquakes in the United States through the establishment and maintenance of an effective earthquake risk reduction program." In support of this mission, Public Law 115-307 directs FEMA to operate a program of direct assistance to states to accomplish various eligible earthquake safety and mitigation activities, including assistance to multi-state groups. The FEMA NEHRP State Assistance Program is designed to increase and enhance the effective implementation of earthquake risk reduction at the national, state, and local level.

NEHRP Earthquake State Assistance Program

FEMA awards non-competitive, cooperative agreements to eligible states and territories with high to very high seismic risks to fund one or more of the following allowable activities. The purpose is to support the establishment of earthquake hazards reduction programming and the implementation of earthquake safety, mitigation, and resilience activities at the state and local level.

1. Develop seismic mitigation plans

States and territories may use FEMA NEHRP Individual State Earthquake Assistance grant funding to develop, update, or enhance the seismic mitigation, preparedness and response sections of their State Hazard Mitigation Plan.  This may include funding milestones such as risk analysis (i.e. modeling, loss estimation), needs assessment, workshops to develop plans, local plan adoption and training and other actionable and measurable tasks in direct support of this allowable activity.

Any seismic mitigation plan funded under this program shall be in alignment or in support of the State’s overall approved Hazard Mitigation Plan to ensure a well-coordinated community risk reduction effort.

2. Develop inventories and conduct seismic safety inspections of critical structures and Lifeline Infrastructure 

States and territories may use FEMA NEHRP Individual State Earthquake Assistance grant funding to plan, execute and manage property inventories and conduct seismic safety inspections of critical structures and lifeline infrastructure (including residential housing).  This may include funding milestones such as planning, training, field data collections and inspections, data analysis and management, report formulation, staffing and other actionable and measurable tasks in direct support of this allowable activity. 

FEMA NEHRP recommends the use of FEMA 154 Rapid Visual Screening of Buildings for Potential Seismic Hazards as a method for initiating local building inventory projects and ATC 20 Post Earthquake Safety Evaluations of Buildings for seismic safety inspections.

3. Update building codes, zoning codes, and ordinances to enhance seismic safety

States and territories may use FEMA NEHRP Individual State Earthquake Assistance grant funding to plan, develop, update, adopt and communicate local building codes, zoning codes, and other community development ordinances to enhance seismic safety.  This may include funding milestones such as staffing, code development and other actionable and measurable tasks in direct support of this allowable activity. Funding may be used for the purpose of training local building code officials on topics related to this allowable activity.  

4. Increase earthquake awareness and education

States and territories may use FEMA NEHRP Individual State Earthquake Assistance grant funding to plan, develop and implement local earthquake awareness and education activities that assist the public in preparing for, mitigating against, responding to and recovering from earthquakes.  This may include funding the development of outreach or marketing plans, educational or informational materials or online tools, staffing, workshops and other actionable and measurable tasks in direct support of this allowable activity. 

FEMA recommends that the States and territories consider the earthquake guidance and materials already available on FEMA.gov and NEHRP.gov when developing local earthquake awareness and educational materials. 

5. Participation in emergency management exercises that substantially benefit earthquake mitigation efforts

Emergency management exercises can provide opportunities to build partnerships and demonstrate the value of incorporating earthquake mitigation into comprehensive pre and post disaster emergency management planning. These activities can also be used to increase public awareness of earthquakes and to stimulate behavioral changes to foster a self-help approach to earthquake mitigation and preparedness.

6. Promotion of earthquake insurance

States and territories may use FEMA NEHRP Individual State Earthquake Assistance grant funding for education, awareness and outreach activities that promote the purchase of Earthquake Insurance by property owners. Materials and communications developed using FEMA NEHRP Individual State Earthquake Assistance funding cannot promote or create the appearance of promoting a specific vendor or insurance company.

7. Assistance to multi-state groups for the purpose of supporting any or all allowable activities under this funding opportunity                                                  

States and territories may use FEMA NEHRP Individual State Earthquake Assistance grant funding to provide funding to Multi-State Groups for the purpose of supporting the activities allowed under this funding opportunity. This may include funding staff, documentation, meeting logistics, travel, and other actionable and measurable tasks in direct support of this allowable activity. All funding for Multi-State Group(s) support will be provided through the use of subawards. For additional information on subawards, see Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 2, Section 200.92, Subaward.

Available Funding And Eligible Applicants

Eligibility for the Individual State Earthquake Assistance funding opportunity is limited to those states and territories determined to have a High or Very High earthquake risk. This determination is compiled annually by FEMA NEHRP as part of the State Assistance Target Allocation List. The List is based on the combination of the Seismic Design Category and Annualized Earthquake Loss contained in FEMA 366 HAZUS-MH Estimated Annualized Earthquake Losses for the United States.

States and Territories that are eligible to apply for the Individual State Earthquake Assistance funding opportunity, must provide a required 25% non-Federal cost share. States and Territories may use third party “In-Kind” contributions to satisfy the non-Federal cost share.

States and Territories that elect not to participate in this funding opportunity will still receive assistance through national FEMA earthquake mitigation activities and multi-State activities managed and implemented by non-profit organizations and institutions of higher education, who receive Multi-State and National Earthquake Assistance grants. NETAP Training, FEMA technical assistance are examples of these activities.

Cooperative agreements have been chosen as the funding mechanism for Individual State Earthquake Assistance because eligible recipients are identified based on seismic risk levels. Cooperative agreements provide an appropriate framework for ensuring continuous dialogue, increased partnership, and mutual cooperation between FEMA and the recipients aimed at understanding local risks, implementing sound seismic risk reduction strategies, and effectively completing approved activities.

Eligible regional Earthquake Consortia and other multi-State groups may apply to receive federal funding through the Multi-State and National Earthquake Assistance funding opportunity that introduces competitive grants. Federal funding is provided to non-profit organizations and institutions of higher education that possess the critical skills necessary to develop and implement regional (multi-state) and/or national earthquake risk mitigation activities.

Annual Guidance

Performance Report

Additional Resources

Other FEMA Grant Programs

FEMA administers several grant programs intended to reduce the risks to people and property posed by natural hazards.

Mitigation Best Practices

Read about examples of real earthquake risk-reduction projects, some of which were funded through the earthquake-relevant assistance programs.

Last updated Aug 3, 2020

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