DEC 19 1997
General Fran Laden
Nebraska Emergency Management Agency
1300 Military Road
Lincoln, Nebraska 68508
Dear General Laden:
This letter responds to the second-level appeal filed on behalf of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's National Drought Mitigation Center for a grant under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). The grant was requested under disaster declaration FEMA-1 027-DR-NE for the establishment of a drought early warning system. The project was originally denied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency Regional office in Kansas City and, subsequently, denied on first appeal by the Regional Director in Kansas City. Our findings support those of the Region and the Regional Director.
Drought is an extremely serious concern for Nebraska and, hence, for our country. Nothing in this review should be interpreted to imply a lessening or denigration of that concern. While the project is laudable, it simply does not fit the program for which application was made.
The Region indicated in its findings that the project did not comply with the HMGP regulations. In fact, both the Stafford Act and the regulations require that projects undertaken result in implementation of risk or hazard reduction (eligibility). Further, the law requires that the implementation result in a reduction to future expenses to the President's Disaster Relief Fund (cost/benefit). Because the proposal involves identification but not implementation, it is not eligible and there is no way to assess cost/benefit.
Further, the major proposed benefit would have to be to provide water for drought avoidance and crop preservation. Unfortunately, if this laudable benefit were to be realized, the project would still not be eligible because so little benefit is available for agricultural losses under the Stafford Act (essentially only Disaster Unemployment Assistance). [There are other Federal programs designed to deal with drought that are administered by the Department of Agriculture and the Small Business Administration ]. Finally, if the project were to be successful, the methods and means of water acquisition would need to be clear in the State of Nebraska during drought conditions (this challenge has confronted the State for sometime now without adequate resolution).
We believe that the project may have merit for other sources of funding. During discussions with other Federal agencies interest was expressed. We recommend that the proposal be submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (Office of Mission to Planet Earth). In addition, we recommend that the proposal be submitted to the S.C. Johnson Foundation in Racine, Wisconsin (the characteristics of sustainable development would need to be highlighted). We have not forwarded the proposal to these other organizations because it may contain proprietary information, but would be happy to do so if the applicant would like us to do it.
We are very sorry that we are unable to provide a more positive answer to the appeal.
Michael J. Armstrong
Associate Director for Mitigation