Post-disaster mitigation grant funding assistance is being offered to Parishes impacted by Hurricane Laura. The grant is available through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). Eligible mitigation activities are designed to reduce future loss of life and property.
In November 2020, the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) expedited HMGP funding allocations through the first installment of $40M to many Hurricane Laura impacted parishes for much needed mitigation.
Of the twenty-one parishes that received funding from the first installment, Calcasieu Parish was the first to accept the Technical Assistance offer. Working with GOHSEP and FEMA, the Parish submitted properties for the frontloading process. Jennifer Cobian, Assistant Director of the Division of Planning & Development for the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury commented that “FEMA’s offer for Technical Assistance and frontloading our HMGP applications has proven to be a game-changer for Calcasieu Parish and is an integral part of our community’s recovery effort.”
FEMA has conducted a preliminary review of the Calcasieu Parish properties for three popular eligible mitigation activities: acquisition and demolition, structural elevations, and mitigation reconstruction.
Frontloading, or early consideration of critical grant approval factors, can eliminate reviews for months before grant approval and funding. FEMA’s Environmental and Historic Preservation (EHP) and Benefit Cost Analysis (BCA) teams are instrumental in this process.
Environmental and Historic Preservation Review
The Environmental and Historic Preservation team triages properties for potential EHP issues and identifies consultation requirements. EHP leverages Geographic Information System (GIS) layers to streamline the review of properties submitted. Each property is given a cursory review for Executive Order (EO) 11988 Floodplains Management, EO 11990 Wetlands Protection, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species, Coastal Barrier Resource Act (CBRA), and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. This evaluation determines if consultation with EHP resource agencies is required and identifies the need for a more in-depth review, such as an archaeology or a standing structure survey, and/or any other informational needs.
Based on the triage, EHP can provide the HMGP program, the state, and the sub-applicant with an estimated level of effort and timeline for the EHP review for individual properties, thus serving as a valuable planning tool.
These preliminary reviews can reduce the potential for Requests for Information (RFI) which extend the review and approval timeframes.
Technical Assistance Process
With a focus on encouraging and empowering eligible parishes, and their communities, FEMA introduced technical assistance opportunities to support the development and submission of HMGP applications.
The technical assistance process is dependent on collaborative efforts by the Parish, GOHSEP and FEMA. Once the sub-applicant identifies potential properties for mitigation, FEMA resources are assigned to provide the requested technical assistance. FEMA coordinates with GOHSEP and provides GOHSEP with regularly scheduled status reports throughout the process. The sub-applicant then receives a final report outlining the expected level of efforts along with any documentation needs or other concerns the technical team may have with a property.
Technical assistance is available in the following areas: eligibility determination, overall HMGP process, frontloading, application development, technical feasibility, BCA, Section 407 Public Assistance (PA) demolition of substantially damaged properties, EHP review, and floodplain management and insurance requirements (including flood zone determination).
Interested sub-applicants are encouraged to contact GOHSEP Hazard Mitigation Assistance to gain more information about expediting HMGP applications and requesting technical assistance. View State Applicant Liaison (SAL) contact information at http://gohsep.la.gov/ABOUT/STATE-REGIONS. Interested sub-applicants may also contact the FEMA Technical Assistance team by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.