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Preparedness Grant Case Studies

FEMA conducts grant effectiveness case studies to demonstrate how states and urban areas across the country use a mix of homeland security non-disaster grant programs to improve preparedness. FEMA chose case study locations to ensure geographic diversity and to link grant investments with recent events.

Success stories from each location are shared below.


California has received over $3 billion in Federal homeland security grants since 2006. Recently, the state has used grant funds to develop and implement a regional planning approach for the provision of disaster housing in the event of a catastrophic earthquake.

  • Virtual Port System: The Port of Long Beach (POLB) is the second busiest port in the United States, with more than $180 billion in trade moving through the port annually and covering 3,500 acres of land and 4,600 acres of water. To enhance port security operations, the POLB developed Virtual Port—a customized mapping and monitoring platform that integrates real-time data from multiple sources. It provides situational awareness of port operations and facilitates rapid incident response across multiple agencies and jurisdictions.
  • California Common Operating Picture for Threat Awareness: Developed through the Statewide Risk Management Program in collaboration with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and eight California Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) regions, the California Common Operating Picture (Cal COP) for Threat Awareness addresses the statewide need for storing and sharing critical infrastructure information and enhances situational threat awareness.
  • County of San Diego Cyber Disruption Response Team: In 2013, the County of San Diego Office of Emergency Services (San Diego OES) convened cybersecurity, law enforcement, and emergency management subject matter experts to establish a regional Cyber Disruption Response Team (CDRT). The CDRT is responsible for managing the region’s response to cyber disruptions as defined in San Diego OES’s cyber disruption response plans. In a 2015 full-scale cybersecurity exercise, the CDRT successfully responded to a cyber disruption that affected regional power infrastructure.


Colorado has invested over $180 million in Federal homeland security grants since 2006. Colorado’s emergency 
preparedness initiatives target terrorism prevention and all-hazards disaster response:
  • ARES volunteers established data radio links atop  ridges to communicate with a  wastewater plant’s SCADA systemAmateur Radio Volunteers Protect Community Water Supply: Colorado’s Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) assists in establishing and maintaining emergency communications during disasters. In response to historic flooding in 2013, 150 ARES volunteers supported operations at a critical wastewater facility.
  • Terrorism Liaison Officer and the Community Awareness Program: Through the Terrorism Liaison Officer program and Community Awareness Program, the Colorado Information Analysis Center trains local law enforcement officers, private sector partners, and the general public to recognize and report terrorism-related information.
  • Regional Explosives Unit Protects Police Officers: The South Central Regional Explosives Unit responds to hundreds of explosive-related calls in 33 Colorado counties each year, including improvised explosive devices, active shooters, booby-trapped drug facilities, and suspicious packages

District of Columbia (DC)

Following the September 2013 Navy Yard shooting, the District of Columbia (DC) recognized the need to enhance their response to mass fatality incidents. As part of this effort, the District invested Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) funding to implement five mass fatality services projects.


In 2018, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conducted a grant effectiveness case study in Florida to understand the state’s use of grant funds to increase its ability to respond to, recover from, and mitigate the impacts of natural and man-made disasters and real-world events. FEMA examined how Florida invested Federal, state, and local funds to address lessons learned from previous disasters to close capability gaps, and whether these investments resulted in improved preparedness. Overall, the case study found that FEMA grant-funded investments positively impacted the response to Hurricane Irma and other real-world events. Many of the investments highlighted in this case study were the culmination of multiple years of careful planning and used a combination of Federal, State, and local funds. Florida prioritizes grant investments based on regional and statewide initiatives. In addition, collaboration across Federal, State and local entities enabled stakeholders to share technical expertise and specialized equipment across jurisdictional and geographic boundaries. The Innovative Practice papers highlight three of those grant-funded investments.
  • All-Hazard Incident Management Teams: All-Hazard Incident Management Teams (AHIMT) provide situational awareness and support to the State Emergency Response Teams and the State Coordinating Officer. The Florida Department of Emergency Management deployed all six AHIMTs at least once in response to Hurricane Irma. Before Hurricane Irma, Florida used grant funds in 2015 to develop the All-Hazards Incident Management Qualification Program, which helps to ensure both the efficient allocation of resources and that emergency responders are supported effectively during an incident.
  • Operation Heat Shield: The Operation Heat Shield Full-Scale exercises were conducted in response to the threat of complex, coordinated terrorist attacks at unique venues such as stadiums and airports.
  • WebEOC: The Florida Department of Emergency Management (FDEM) used Emergency Management Performance Grant funds to expand its WebEOC crisis management system, a shared statewide communication software platform that can implement standard emergency management processes to maintain a common operating picture during large-scale events. FDEM tested WebEOC integration during the 2018 hurricane exercise (HURREX), which was based on a Hurricane Irma-type scenario. Exercise participants used WebEOC to create and update missions, train new employees, and test the execution of emergency operations procedures consistent with the hurricane scenario.
  • More information on additional investments and impacts may be found in the full Florida case study report.


Since 2005, Louisiana has received over $380 million in Federal homeland security grants, investing funds in interoperable communications, partnerships to enhance disaster response and recovery, and critical infrastructure protection:


In 2014, the police department in Brewer, Maine used State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) funds to establish the Multi-Assault Counter Terrorism Action Capabilities (MACTAC) training program to enhance regional response to complex coordinated terrorist attacks and active shooter events. Brewer Police Department created the MACTAC program in response to real-world events, including the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.


Massachusetts’s Western Homeland Security Planning Region used State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) funding to support a Children in Disasters Conference in September 2015. Local planners incorporated subject-matter expertise and participant input from the conference into subsequent efforts, such as developing a Family Reunification Plan Template.


Michigan has received over $435 million in preparedness grant funding since 2006. Michigan has used a portion of these grants to enhance response capabilities, including an innovative project to use an unmanned aircraft system to support state response teams.

  • Michigan State Police Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) on a training mission near Lansing, Michigan.  (L-R) Sgt. Matt Rogers, UAS Pilot and Trooper Mike Roth, UAS Visual ObserverUnmanned Aircraft System: Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) technology enhances Michigan’s abilities to conduct real-time assessments during an incident and collect detailed post-incident information for recovery activities. The Michigan State Police (MSP) purchased the UAS with $162,000 in Homeland Security Grant Program funds and have used the UAS during real-world incidents, exercises, and trainings.
  • Michigan Cyber Initiatives: Michigan’s emergency managers and state officials are building public-private partnerships and using grant funding to enhance the state’s cyber response capabilities.


From 2006 to 2014, Minnesota received over $298 million in preparedness grant funding. The state has used a share of this grant funding to invest in innovative cybersecurity projects, including an effort to enhance local jurisdictions’ ability to monitor and detect malicious cyber activity.

  • Statewide Security Monitoring Initiative: Recognizing the vulnerability of government information technology (IT) networks to threats from malicious actors, MN.IT—the state’s IT agency—created the Statewide Security Monitoring Initiative (SSMI) to increase IT network security for counties and cities across Minnesota.


In 2013, Montana Disaster and Emergency Services (DES) and the Montana Fire Wardens Association invested State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) funds to develop Situation Analyst Montana (SAM), a web-based platform that enables emergency managers, public health, fire, and law enforcement stakeholders to access a common operating picture of ongoing statewide incidents in real time. This project addressed a capability gap in maintaining operational coordination of wildfire response efforts.

New York City

From 2006 to 2014, New York City received over $2.1 billion in preparedness and public health grant funding. A number of factors, such as its population density and large number of international visitors, contribute to the city’s heightened risk for the spread of communicable diseases. Accordingly, the city has invested heavily in improving infectious disease preparedness and response capabilities; Ebola virus disease was no exception. Through March 2015, New York City agencies spent $21 million responding to the virus. Federal preparedness and public health grant-supported projects in the areas of pre-incident coordination, preparedness activities, and response lessened the financial burden and helped New York City effectively address its 16 suspected cases (including one positive case) of Ebola virus disease since 2014.

  • Bio Isolation Transfer Cards: Following the March 2014 outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa, New York City (NYC) agencies began developing plans and protocols for handling potential EVD cases. As part of this effort, the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) collaborated with city hospitals and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to develop Bio Isolation Transfer (BIT) cards—documents embodying standard operating procedures (SOPs) for safely transporting and handing off individuals suspected of having contracted EVD (known as “persons under investigation,” or PUIs).

  • New York City Community Outreach Teams: When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first-ever case of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the United States, New York City (NYC) quickly acted to educate the public about EVD and its associated risks. In support of this effort, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) deployed community outreach teams to distribute informational materials and engage the public in discussions about EVD.

  • Photo of New York City's Active Monitoring System and Call CenterActive Monitoring System and Call Center: New York City (NYC) began monitoring individuals returning from countries affected by Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the fall of 2014, in response to a directive from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Using almost $1.7 million in Public Health Emergency Preparedness funds (including the EVD suplemental) and $3.5 million in Urban Areas Security Initiative funds, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) quickly adapted existing structures to stand up an active monitoring system.


Based on lessons learned from the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013, Cuyahoga County invested State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) funding to create over 100 deployable mass casualty supply kits. Cuyahoga County deployed these kits in support of the 2016 Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland, Ohio.


Between 2006 and 2013, Oklahoma received over $146 million in preparedness grant funding. Oklahoma faces a diverse set of threats and hazards, including tornadoes, wildfires, ice storms, and floods:


In 2018, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conducted a grant effectiveness case study in Texas to understand Texas’ use of grant funds to increase its ability to respond to, recover from, and mitigate disaster impacts. Specifically, FEMA examined how Texas made investments using Federal, state, and local funds to address lessons learned from previous disasters by closing capability gaps and whether these investments resulted in improved preparedness ahead of Hurricane Harvey in 2017. FEMA also examined the processes that Texas and local jurisdictions use to prioritize and allocate FEMA grant investments.
Overall, the case study found that FEMA grant-funded investments positively impacted the response to Hurricane Harvey. Many of the investments highlighted in this case study are the culmination of multiple years of careful planning and a combination of Federal, state, and local funds. In addition, collaboration across Federal, state and local entities enabled the sharing of technical expertise and specialized equipment across jurisdictional and geographic boundaries.
  • Arkema Chemical Plant Fire Response: During Hurricane Harvey, flooding at the Arkema Chemical Plant caused trailers to leak dangerous chemicals. The Houston Police Department used a helicopter equipped with night vision video capabilities and data downlink software to reveal an unstable condition as chemicals began to react. This provided first responders real-time, detailed visual information that possibly saved the lives of sixteen responders who would have otherwise entered a dangerous situation.
  • Houston, Harris County, and Montgomery County Radio Systems: The City of Houston, Harris County and Montgomery County built a fully interoperable emergency management communication network. Montgomery County’s network was built independently of the Houston/Harris County network, and all three governments coordinated to ensure that networks were interoperable. The counties continue to rely on one another for increased operational effectiveness. Previous networks required responders to carry multiple radios to communicate across jurisdictional lines; otherwise, responders were unable to communicate outside of their jurisdiction. Responders believe these upgraded operational communication capabilities saved countless lives during Hurricane Harvey.
  • Regional Disaster Finance Program: This Texas-funded innovative program trains jurisdictions to address disaster-related financial topics such as how to track time and labor, overtime charges, and travel cost processing. Local jurisdictions reported better capabilities in handling Hurricane Harvey-related finances after completing the training.
  • Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission Radio System: Over 18 years, the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission (SETRPC) implemented an interoperable 800-megahertz (MHz) radio system. During Hurricane Harvey, local communities maintained clear and consistent communication as a result of these radio system improvements, even as floodwaters physically isolated them.
  • More information on additional investments and impacts may be found in the full Texas case study report.


Since 2006, Washington has received nearly $469 million in preparedness grant funding. Washington implemented a regional approach to managing homeland security investments and improving preparedness: grantee effectiveness case study photo from the King County Sheriff and CBP roping exercise in the Port of Seattle
  • Northwest Regional Aviation Unit: Protecting the Puget Sound: The Seattle Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) established Northwest Regional Aviation (NWRA)—an aviation consortium that protects the Puget Sound area from terrorism and responds to large-scale disasters. The NWRA saved 12 survivors during the first three hours of the Snohomish County mudslide on March 22, 2014.
  • Project Safe Haven: Tsunami Vertical Evacuation Systems on Washington State’s Pacific Coast: Washington State’s Pacific coast faces the threat of large-scale earthquakes and tsunamis. The project provides residents and visitors in coastal population centers a means of seeking safety without having to travel considerable distance to natural high ground.
  • Regional Collaboration: Interoperable Communications in Eastern Washington: Since 2004, Washington State Homeland Security Region 9 has prioritized investments in interoperable radio communications for all first responders, regardless of discipline. Regional partners collaborated to establish an interoperable communications system with increased coverage that has improved incident response across all levels of government for the region.
Last Updated: 
09/18/2019 - 08:38