View a web page showcasing FEMA’s mitigation assistance over the last 30 years.
View a detailed timeline showcasing some defining events and advancements in the history of FEMA’s mitigation assistance program.
Hazard Mitigation Assistance e-brief
- May 1, 2018
- March 15, 2018
- January 19, 2018
- November 7, 2017
- August 16, 2017
- July 27, 2017
- June 19, 2017
- April 12, 2017
Mitigation Project Transforms Flood Prone Structures into a Thriving Community Park
How do you move a whole town out of harm’s way while preserving the town’s history and keeping it as a functional community space? Read on to find out.
A History of Repeated Flooding
By 2005, the small riverside town of Waverly in Morgan County, Indiana had endured over 100 years of flooding. The town, founded in 1837, was built on flat ground near one of Indiana’s longest rivers, the White River, which spans more than 300 miles. The construction of a nearby canal created booming business for the taverns of Waverly which catered to the canal workers. By the 20th century, as the town further developed, there was a department store, ice cream parlor, barbershop and two halls for community gatherings.
However, Waverly’s early economic boom eventually waned after a key access bridge across the White River was moved. Conditions in the town continued to deteriorate over the years. In the 1970s and ‘80s, not only did Waverly struggle with an economic downturn, but its close proximity to the White River also made it a high risk for flooding. Records show that repeat flooding impacted Waverly from as early as 1913 and continued to affect the town throughout the 2000s.
In 2005, Kenny Hale of the Morgan County Planning Commission came up with an innovative idea to protect Waverly’s citizens from flooding. He wanted to enlist the town to start purchasing properties in the small community and help residents find new homes in other parts of the county that were drier and safer.
He found money through the Riverboat Fund, taxes collected on Indiana’s casino riverboats that are shared with communities lacking casinos to generate gambling revenue. He went to the local council and asked for $50,000 out of the Riverboat Fund to begin purchasing properties. But Kenny had a hard time initially convincing local officials that residents would be interested in his project. “They don’t want out of there, they’re used to flooding,” Kenny recalled them telling him. “So a few months later I was really fast at calling them and let them know I closed on our first property. We actually acquired ten structures in the first two years.”
Old Town Waverly is Transformed
Around this time, Kenny also had another vision - to convert the Old Town Waverly community into a park. Kenny reached out to local officials and the community and the concept began to gain momentum.
In 2008, as Kenny was working with the community to purchase homes and relocate residents, disaster struck. Mary Moran, the Disaster Recovery Director for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, recalled, “That year, we had one of the biggest flooding events recorded in the state with more than 10 inches of rainfall in a 36 hour period … thousands of businesses and homes were affected. It caused over $200 million dollars’ worth of damage.”
The major Presidential disaster declaration made FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding available to continue Kenny’s project to purchase flood-prone structures from willing sellers and either demolish them or relocate them to a site outside of a floodplain. In total from 2005 to 2016, with a mixture of local and federal grant funding, Kenny purchased 84 flood-prone structures in Old Town Waverly.
By keeping the land where these structures previously existed clear, Kenny was also able to bring his vision of a park to life while restoring and conserving the natural floodplain. The 98-acre park includes walking trails, the historical museum, an old bank, a church and other amenities. In fact, Kenny repurposed materials such as lumber and brick from the original Old Town into features in the new park such as walkways and buildings.
Although the historical preservation is important, the removal of the structures next to the White River has also significantly reduced the amount of emergency response resources that are required during flood events in Morgan County. “I’ve had several emergency personnel come up and pat me on the back and say, we can’t thank you enough. We didn’t have to do a single flood evacuation and that makes us feel really good,” Kenny said.
Listen to the podcast to discover more about the Morgan County Project.
To view past features stories check out the Feature Story Archive page.
FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Division hosted a webinar on May 8, 2018 about the first ever, HMA-funded Aquifer Storage and Recovery Project being constructed in Salinas, Puerto Rico to counter the community’s water supply problem and the drought of 2015. The webinar discusses how the preferred action strategy was selected; how the aquifer storage and recovery will work; and information on the project budget and coordination efforts.
Building Codes for Mitigation: Using ASCE 24
On Thursday, January 25, 2018, FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Division delivered a webinar to share information on the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 24 Building Codes for Mitigation. Presenters provided information on the ASCE 24 flood-specific building code requirements as they relate to Hazard Mitigation Assistance, including information about mitigation projects such as elevations, floodproofing, and mitigation reconstruction. Participants who would find value in this webinar include floodplain administrators, city and building code officials, insurance adjusters, and others who have an interest in understanding and applying ASCE 24 requirements.
The Ins and Outs of SBA Disaster Loans for Mitigation
On November 16, 2017, SBA provided general information on loans designed for individuals and businesses to conduct mitigation measures such as home elevations, relocating utilities, retrofitting structures and building retaining walls. FEMA provided more information on resources that are available to start these types of mitigation projects.
FY 2017 Mitigation Grant Application Cycle - Lessons Learned and Best Practices for Application Development
This 90-minute webinar reviewed lessons learned and best practices identified during the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 mitigation grant cycle to assist in the development of applications for the FY 2017 Grant Cycle. It presented an overview of the results of the FY 2016 mitigation grant cycle, with a focus on common issues and best practices identified across all project types with an in-depth walk through of the innovative Drought and Flood Mitigation Projects (Green Infrastructure, Aquifer Storage and Recovery, Flood Diversion and Storage, and Floodplain and Stream Restoration).
Cost Estimating Principles for Hazard Mitigation Assistance Applications
This webinar on Cost Estimating Principles for Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Applications was presented on May 10, 2017. It is an abbreviated version of previous cost estimating webinars and provides a:
- General understanding of the principles of reviewing cost estimates for HMA projects (throughout the grant lifecycle).
- Process for determining “reasonable costs” as part of grant application review.
- Resources were you can go to get more detailed information and examples.