The Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation (STORM) Act became law on Jan. 1, 2021 and authorizes FEMA to provide capitalization grants to states, eligible federally recognized tribes, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia to establish revolving loan funds that provide hazard mitigation assistance for local governments to reduce risks from natural hazards and disasters. The Act amends the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.
The STORM Act is modeled after the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act state revolving loan fund programs, which partially fund water infrastructure projects.
On Aug. 29, 2022, FEMA published the Notice of Intent for a future funding opportunity to provide no less than $50 million for the new Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation Revolving Loan Fund (Safeguarding Tomorrow RLF) program. These low interest loans will allow jurisdictions to reduce vulnerability to natural disasters, foster greater community resilience and reduce disaster suffering.
Revolving Loan Fund Program
The STORM Act allows FEMA to fund capitalization grants for states, federally recognized tribes, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia to make funding decisions and award loans directly to local communities. Federally recognized tribes must have received a major disaster declaration during the five-year period ending on Jan. 1, 2021 to be a participating entity.
In other HMA programs, states and federally recognized tribes are pass-through entities which route subapplicant requests to FEMA for review. The STORM Act allows for FEMA to empower these entities to make funding decisions and award loans directly.
As a new program, FEMA is ensuring that program development aligns with the intent of the STORM Act. We are implementing necessary measures to prepare states, federally recognized tribes and territories to apply for capitalization grants as well as manage and initiate loans to local communities.
Guidelines for this funding are being developed to help participating and eligible entities be better positioned to increase climate resilience and recover from disasters more quickly. An Intended Use Plan is required for any participating entity receiving a capitalization grant for a revolving loan fund.
Loans through this program will be made at lower interest rates and more flexible terms than are typically available through commercial loans in the private market.
Capitalization Grants for Insular Areas
Under the January 2021 Act, FEMA is authorized to set-aside up to 2.5% of available funds for FEMA to carry out three activities:
- Provide certain technical assistance to eligible entities
- Cover administrative costs of carrying out the program
- Provide capitalization grants to insular areas, including American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) became law on Nov. 15, 2021, fully funding the STORM Act and appropriating $100 million per year over five years for a total of $500 million. This will last through Fiscal Year 2026.
In the program development phase, FEMA’s is focused on research and engagement efforts to establish grant application and fund management requirements.
We are also assessing the capacity of states, federally recognized tribes, territories and local governments to implement the program.
FEMA’s goal is for a program launch and Notice of Funding Opportunity to be published towards the end of calendar year 2022. FEMA published a Notice of Intent on Aug. 29. We are developing a stakeholder engagement plan, while also considering potential impacts to the overall timeline, such as regulatory compliance requirements.
Comments may be submitted to FEMA-STORMRLF@fema.dhs.gov.