Yuma, Ariz. -- While the El Ni?o storms last winter brought flooding to other parts of the United States, Yuma, Arizona experienced very little damage because the city had the foresight to prepare and mitigate against such disasters.
This community involvement in emergency preparedness is the cornerstone of the nationwide Project Impact program, and one of the reasons Yuma has been selected to join the program at the invitation of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director James Lee Witt.
FEMA will welcome the City of Yuma Tuesday as the newest member of the agency's Project Impact initiative - a national effort to change the way America deals with disasters. The program encourages communities to come together, assess their vulnerabilities and implement strategies to prevent or limit damage before disasters occur.
A formal signing ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m., Tuesday, May 18, at the City of Yuma Council Chambers, 180 West First St., Yuma.
"The motive for Yuma is obvious," said Yuma Mayor Marilyn Young. "This partnership corresponds with the goals of our city, in which public safety is top priority. Disaster-resistant communities are able to withstand disasters with far less loss of life and property. We were able to see that last winter when the El Ni?o storms caused very little damage, thanks to preparedness measures by our residents, businesses and city and county workers."
Yuma faces an array of high-risk hazards such as floods, windstorms, hurricanes, tropical storms and earthquakes. Yuma residents have seen first-hand the economic and emotional price paid following such disasters as the flooding of the Gila and Colorado rivers, especially in 1983 and 1993, the storms of Hurricane Kathleen in 1976 and Hurricane Nora in 1997, and the memorable earthquake of 1940.
By participating in Project Impact, Yuma will receive technical support from FEMA while creating local partnerships with the business community, grassroots organizations, local government agencies and individuals. This partnership, designed to infuse local responsibility throughout the area, will provide funding, in-kind services and technical support to reduce risks and to build a stronger, safer community.
"We applaud Yuma for its commitment to reducing damage risks," said Vallee Bunting, Deputy Regional Director of FEMA Region IX in San Francisco. "FEMA invited Yuma to participate as a Project Impact community because of the history of damage in the past, the probability that the residents will face disasters in the future, and especially the willingness to participate in the Project Impact prevention programs."
Yuma's mitigation efforts have included flood control activities such as river dredging, bank reinforcement, and drain repair and rebuilding, and earthquake preparedness such as seismic strengthening of buildings, structures and overpasses.
Besides FEMA, Yuma's numerous Project Impact partners will include various federal and state departments such as Arizona Division of Emergency Management and Arizona Public Service, various county and city offices, the County of Yuma, Yuma County Water Users Association, Wellton Mohawk Irrigation and Drainage District, Yuma Regional Medical Center, Yuma Union High School District, Yuma Daily Sun, KYMA-TV, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and Apparel by Johnny.
Three common-sense principles are the basis of Project Impact: mitigation at the local-community level; participation by the private sector; and long-term preventive measures.
"Project Impact is a great example of a cooperative partnership between the private and public sectors," added Bunting. "We look forward to working closely with Yuma, local community leaders, businesses and residents."
In addition to Yuma...