BOSTON, Mass. -- Rhode Island recently received the Outstanding State Award recognizing the State's outstanding efforts and contributions to Project Impact - Building Disaster Resistant Communities during this year's second annual Project Impact Summit in Washington, DC. Project Impact is a nationwide initiative to help change the way America deals with disasters.
Led by the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA), Rhode Island has worked diligently over the past six years to lay the foundation for acceptance and practice of hazard prevention, involving many partners in both the public and private sectors. As part of a comprehensive Executive Order on disaster prevention issued by Governor Lincoln Almond in December 1998, communities throughout the state are required to develop disaster prevention plans. To date, at least 33 of Rhode Island's 39 cities and towns are actively developing, adopting and implementing local hazard mitigation strategies, more than any other state in the country. Furthermore, Rhode Island is unique in the country in that these local hazard mitigation strategies are actually incorporated by regulation into the local land use decision-making process.
Recipients of the award, on behalf of the state, were Raymond LaBelle, Executive Director of RIEMA; Pamela Pogue, State Coordinator for Project Impact; and Joseph Almeida, State Hazard Mitigation Officer. They were joined by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director James Lee Witt and representatives from hundreds of Project Impact communities at the Project Impact Awards Gala on December 15. More than 1,200 citizens, businesses, public officials and emergency managers came from communities across America to participate in this year's Project Impact Summit. They were in Washington to share their communities' progress and the lessons they learned on what works best to prevent deaths and damages from disasters.
"The State of Rhode Island and all the recipients of this year's Project Impact awards are leaders in this first generation of Project Impact communities. They are helping to build the infrastructure for disaster prevention in every community in America," said Director Witt. "Rhode Island's outstanding efforts demonstrate that we don't have to be victims of natural disasters. Every one of us can take steps to prevent ourselves, our loved ones, our businesses and our communities from becoming disaster victims."
In addition to the extensive involvement of local communities in disaster resistant activities, Rhode Island was cited for its outreach efforts to corporations and small businesses through its private sector partners, the Institute of Business and Home Safety and The University of Rhode Island's Coastal Resources Center.
Another major contributor to the State's successful efforts is the leadership of the Rhode Island State Hazard Mitigation Committee, with representation from the Department of Transportation; Fire Marshall's Office; Public Utilities; Coastal Resources Council; Department of Environmental Management; Statewide Planning; the Building Banking and Insurance Commissioner; and the Building Trades Organization.
Project Impact is a nationwide initiative to shift the focus from simply responding to disasters to taking actions in advance to prevent the potentially devastating effects of natural disasters. Project Impact began in 1997 with seven pilot communities and now today has nearly 200 designated communities and over 1,100 business partners. Project Impact has shown that for every dollar spent on prevention, at least two dollars are saved in disaster recovery costs.