FEMA has obligated $10.28 million in flood resilience projects through the Flood Mitigation Assistance Swift Current initiative. This is the first FEMA initiative funded through President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The initiative allocates a total of $60 million to Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Pennsylvania—all states affected by Hurricane Ida—to equitably expedite mitigation grants to disaster survivors with repetitively flooded homes. The application period opened April 1, and by Aug. 1, the funding requested exceeded the amount made available through the Swift Current Initiative by over $9 million. FEMA continues to review all other subapplications submitted to the Flood Mitigation Assistance Swift Current initiative and will announce further selections in the upcoming months.
Selections include acquiring 31 flood-prone properties in New Jersey and converting land to open space while two properties in Louisiana will be reconstructed to better withstand flooding. More information about these and other selections is available on FEMA.gov.
Swift Current seeks to substantially speed up the award of Flood Mitigation Assistance funding after a flooding event and reduce the complexity of the application process. Its goal is to obligate flood mitigation dollars for repetitively and substantially flood damaged properties insured through the National Flood Insurance Program as quickly and equitably as possible after a disaster event.
The program recognizes the growing flood hazards associated with climate change, and of the need for flood hazard risk mitigation activities that promote climate adaptation, equity and resilience to flooding. These hazards are expected to increase in frequency and intensity.
As climate change increases disaster risks across the country, emergency managers and government officials are beginning to implement strategies to build community resilience. FEMA Resources for Climate Resilience provides a roadmap of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) programs and initiatives that advance community climate resilience. FEMA Resources for Climate Resilience assists FEMA’s state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) partners in navigating the FEMA resources that are available to support communities in mitigating impacts of climate change.
Building resilience is a long-term, ongoing cycle that requires multiple steps to accomplish. Each section of the FEMA Resources for Climate Resilience corresponds with a step in that cycle and provides information about FEMA services, programs, and grants available to SLTT partners. Each SLTT partner has a unique experience with FEMA and has participated in different elements of the resilience cycle. SLTT partners with limited FEMA experience may choose to start from the beginning of FEMA Resources for Climate Resilience, while other SLTT partners may navigate directly to their program of choice.
Each section of FEMA Resources for Climate Resilience provides a brief description of the program, service, or grant, an overview of who can apply, examples of the FEMA programs in action, and helpful tools and resources for learning more about the program, service, or grant. In addition, where applicable, FEMA Resources for Climate Resilience also points out areas where equity can be prioritized. FEMA Resources for Climate Resilience explains how existing tools, such as the National Risk Index (Risk Index), can assist SLTT governments and their communities, right now, in making informed planning decisions including considerations of impacts from future weather conditions.
FEMA Resources for Climate Resilience also provides a quick glance at FEMA funding sources, such as the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program, designed to support communities in building capability and capacity to mitigate the increasing impacts of climate change.
FEMA Resources for Climate Resilience is available to download at https://www.fema.gov/sites/default/files/documents/fema_resources-climate-resilience.pdf
FEMA has approved grants of more than $4.7 million for two hazard mitigation projects for the city of Panama City to reduce its risk of critical facility failure during future disasters. Funding from FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) was approved in response to a proposal by the city after Hurricane Michael in 2018.
Millville Wastewater Treatment Plant: $2,653,956 for the purchase and installation of twin permanent generators to support the critical operations of the plant. They will be connected to the main electrical transfer system by a switchgear and an underground duct bank, which provide a protected pathway for electrical transmission and allow the city to provide continued service to the community during future power outages.
Sanitary Sewer Lift Stations: $2,052,265 for Phase One in a proposed project to provide flood protection and improvements to 13 sanitary sewer lift stations within the city, including surveying, engineering, design, plan preparation, permitting and the bidding for Phase Two approval. If approved, the project proposes different mitigation actions depending on the needs and assessment of each of the 13 sites to include relocation, elevation or strengthening against storm surge and wave-action hazards.
The HMGP provides funding to help communities eliminate or reduce disaster-related damage. Following a major disaster, a percentage of a state’s total federal recovery grants is calculated to help develop more resilient communities. Florida has an Enhanced Hazard Mitigation Plan that allows more funding to be available for post-disaster resilience projects. States with the enhanced plan receive HMGP funds based on 20% of their total estimated eligible federal disaster assistance.
A week after Ida’s landfall in Louisiana, FEMA has given more than $165 million in grants to Louisiana survivors to help them begin their recovery. FEMA also received more than 13,500 National Flood Insurance Program claims from the affected states for processing.
People can help survivors and communities impacted by Hurricane Ida by donating to or volunteering with the voluntary or charitable organization of their choice, many of which are already in areas impacted by Ida and supporting survivors. Learn how to best help those in need.
Federal Actions to Support Areas Affected by Hurricane Ida
On Sept. 2, FEMA announced changes to its Individual Assistance program to better support disaster survivors by reducing the barriers to agency programs that aid underserved populations. Changes in this new policy include expanding acceptance of different forms of documentation to prove ownership or occupancy, while also expanding assistance for a disaster-caused disability.
There are eight FEMA Incident Management Assistance Teams deployed to support states affected by Hurricane Ida. Five are in Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Seven AmeriCorps FEMA Corps teams are supporting Louisiana recovery efforts.
The National Emergency Management Association is helping facilitate additional resources to the Gulf Coast through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. Resources from 14 states have been sent to assist with ongoing response and recovery efforts.
Commodities, equipment and personnel are working throughout the affected areas. This includes:
Disaster Survivor Assistance teams are on the ground in Louisiana providing in-person assistance in New Orleans and other parishes.
Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) teams have completed more than 39,000 structural evaluations in affected areas in Louisiana.
More than 278 ambulance crews and 30 air ambulances are deployed and working in Louisiana.
Additional ambulances and air ambulances are in Mississippi to support impacted areas.
Mobile Emergency Response Support assets, including emergency operations vehicles, are deployed to support communication needs in Louisiana and New Jersey.
The Defense Logistics Agency has been activated for fuel support and leasing of additional generators. High output generators are in Baton Rouge, La.
In Louisiana, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has activated its Operation Blue Roof program for parishes approved for individual assistance. Residents can sign up for the program and complete a Right of Entry form at Blueroof.us. Residents can call toll free 1-888-ROOF-BLU (1-888-766-3258) for more information regarding this program.
USACE Temporary Emergency Power Planning and Response Teams, contractor support, and the 249th Engineer Battalion’s power generation team are mobilized in Mississippi and Louisiana to conduct power assessments and installations.
The U.S. Department of Energy authorized the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to conduct an exchange of 300,000 barrels of crude oil between fuel storage companies in Louisiana to alleviate any logistical issues of moving crude oil within areas affected by Hurricane Ida. This action will help ensure the region has access to fuel as quickly as possible as they continue their recovery.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved Louisiana’s request to allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program households to use their benefits to purchase prepared meals and are assisting with program flexibilities needed for mass feeding operations. USDA’s Disaster Household Distribution program was approved and will provide food packages to 800,000 survivors in 19 parishes.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) deployed more than 180 medical providers and other staff from the National Disaster Medical System to support the triage and treatment of patients in Louisiana. This includes three teams that will be providing Emergency Department decompression to three hospitals in Thibodaux, Kenner and Raceland. The team in Thibodaux will begin to see patients today. A 250-bed healthcare facility federal medical station at the New Orleans Ernest Morial Convention Center began seeing patients this weekend. Patients must be referred to the station.
The station is staffed by Disaster Medical Assistance personnel and credentialed medical volunteers identified by the Louisiana Department of Health.
The Salvation Army mobilized feeding kitchens and emergency response vehicles in Albany, Baton Rouge, Hammond, Houma, and Thibodaux Gonzalez, Kenner, LaPlace, Napoleonville, New Orleans and Raceland, La. These operations can feed up to 60,000 people a day.
The American Red Cross, with the help of their partners, has provided more than 49,000 meals and snacks for survivors in the Gulf Coast. There are more than 20 Red Cross and community shelters open in affected areas in Louisiana. There are 13 shelters open in New Jersey and three in New York.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced an Emergency Declaration that provides truck drivers flexibility to move critical freight to areas damaged by Ida.
Additionally, USDOT activated an Emergency Relief Docket for railroads so they can get temporary safety regulations waivers to help them speed up service to move goods necessary for emergency relief efforts.
The Federal Communications Commission is working directly with wireless carriers so that those in affected areas can roam on any available network while restoration efforts are underway.
FEMA released its landmark study, “Building Codes Save: A National Study,” featuring an in-depth look at the quantified benefits—avoided losses to buildings and building contents—from adopting modern building codes and standards. As the frequency and severity of natural hazards continue to increase year-over-year, this study reaffirms that building codes continue to be the best first line of defense.
“With incredible analytic detail, this study reaffirms what so many studies before have concluded — adopting and implementing the I-Codes is one of the most effective ways to safeguard our communities against disasters,” said Code Council Chief Executive Officer Dominic Sims, CBO. “But further strides must be made in states and localities where the report identifies there are no codes adopted or where codes have not been updated this century. We thank FEMA for highlighting the value of and need for coordinated action at all levels of government that is critical to ensuring our homes and businesses are best positioned to weather the increasing hazard risks posed by our changing climate.”
International Code Council and FLASH celebrate the most comprehensive study conducted around hazard-resilient building codes to-date
The study affirmed the recent finding by the National Institute of Building Sciences that adopting modern codes provides $11 in mitigation savings for every $1 invested. Alarmingly, the FEMA study found that currently 65 percent of counties, cities, and towns across the U.S. have not adopted modern building codes, only 50 percent of cumulative post-2000 construction adhered to the I-Codes, and 30 percent of new construction is occurring in communities with no codes at all or codes that are more than 20 years outdated.
“This study is excellent news for consumers as it delivers powerful economic evidence that modern building codes are the essential public policy tool to help communities survive and recover from disasters,” said FLASH President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson. “The findings validate yet again that safer and stronger buildings preserve our quality of life today and strengthen our ability to confront an accelerating number of deadly, billion-dollar disasters tomorrow. We urge all leaders to recognize and use these profound insights to champion the cause for codes, and we thank FEMA for their leadership in bringing this critical information forward.”
“We are not powerless in the face of severe weather,” explains Dr. Anne Cope, chief engineer for the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). “The latest building science, including research conducted at the IBHS Research Center, points us to actionable and affordable ways to strengthen our homes and businesses to reduce avoidable losses from natural catastrophes. A critical step toward ending the cycle of repeated losses, particularly in coastal areas, is the adoption and enforcement of modern building codes.”
Based on a database of more than 18 million actual buildings constructed since the inception of the I-Codes in 2000, the frequency of hazard events across the country, and the contents and edition of the International Residential Code (IRC) and International Building Code (IBC) in effect in each locality where post-2000 construction took place, the study found:
- The IRC and IBC provided more than $27 billion in cumulative mitigation benefits against flood, hurricane wind, and earthquake hazards from 2000 to 2016. These benefits could have been doubled if all post 2000 construction adhered to the I-Codes.
- If construction continues at the pace the study observed and if the proportion of that construction adhering to the I-Codes is consistent with the trend the study identifies, the I-Codes could help communities avoid $132 billion to $171 billion in cumulative losses through 2040.
- If all new buildings across the U.S. were built to modern editions of the I-Codes, the country would save more than $600 billion by 2060.
The cost of not adopting building codes is too high. As FEMA’s materials make clear: “Adopting building codes is the single most effective thing we can do! One change in building codes can save lives and protect property for generations to come.” Proper implementation of adopted codes is also critical, as the means through which codes’ theoretical benefits are delivered in the field.