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Mitigation is the process of taking action before a disaster strikes with an aim of reducing human loss and financial consequences. Mitigation involves activities and measures taken to reduce loss of property and life by decreasing the outcome of any calamity and catastrophe. Successful mitigation programs demands that everybody understands the risks involved, engage to tackle the hard choices and provide for a long-run well-being of the society. Lack of proper mitigation actions and programs will jeopardize public safety and property security. Natural and artificial disasters can occur anyplace and at anytime and the human and financial costs are difficult to forecast (OHSEP, 2009). The degree of occurrence of disasters is increasing each and every year making the federal government to intervene. However, not all disaster cases have sparked action from the federal government since only 50% of disasters occurrences have triggered Federal assistance.
Disaster Preparedness Overview
Mechanisms for emergency management and response are provided by the National Incident Management System (NIMS) by working cooperatively with related institutions to offer regular and general approach to preparedness (Donald, et al 2012). This is achieved through a constant phase of planning, training, exercising, evaluating, equipping and taking remedial measures. Continuous preparedness actions and incident response activities make sure there is harmonization of activities during times of crisis (ICMA n.d). Furthermore, preparedness makes it possible for effective emergency management activities as well as efficient incident response activities. To develop preparedness programs and activities, organizations, individuals and communities should control existing preparedness efforts to achieve maximum possible results. Therefore, effective mitigation and preparedness should be done both at personal level, community level and national level.
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Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the body that is charged with the role of implementing mitigation programs as well as managing National Food Program. These programs are authorized by the congress in support of mitigation programs. This is aimed to support programs that reduce the disaster impact and so reduce the nation’s dependence on taxpayers for catastrophe relief. FEMA’s disaster alleviation and Insurance programs are established to help States and localities to accomplish the bets level of risk analysis and reduction as well as risk insurance (FEMA, 2013). Discussed below are the federal mitigation programs available.
Risk Analysis, and Risk Reduction
Risk analysis involves the federal agencies working to understand the impact of disasters by means of advanced technology and multi-hazard engineering science so as to successfully plan to reduce their effects. The objective of risk reduction on the other hand is to reduce the level of risk to life and property (FEMA, 2013). This reduction of risk includes existing organization and future structure before and after the disaster. The process is achieved by issuing of regulations and ordinances, building and land use regulations and mitigation plans to reduce or eliminate the risks. Risk analysis is not a mitigation program or a disaster preparedness program but a process in every disaster mitigation and preparedness program. It is a process that should be done in every mitigation program to establish the degree of risk involved and the extent in which that perceived risk can be reduced to.
Disaster Mitigation Programs
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a program aimed at reducing the effects of flooding on both public and private structures through provision of reasonably priced insurance for property. The aim of the program is to encourage the public to adopt and implement flood management regulations to mitigate the impact of floods on both new and established structures (Floods, n. d) The NFIP therefore helps reduce the impact of disasters by encouraging the public to purchase and retain of both national flood insurance and risk insurance.
Mutual Aid Agreements
Assistance agreements or the Mutual aid agreements are accords made between state agencies, institutions and organizations that provide the means of accessing fast emergency assistance especially that of personnel, materials and other relevant services (FEMA, 2013). The most important objective is to facilitate a quick deployment of disaster support before, during and even after the incident.
EMAC and NEMA Programs
Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC)
This is an interstate common aid accord that allows assistance by one to another in the process of responding to all types of disaster whether natural or man-made. The National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) oversees this program.
Model Intrastate Mutual Aid Legislation
This Model Intrastate Mutual Aid Legislation was created by National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) in relation to a range of disaster response institutions to aid intrastate common relief among other subdivisions in a state. The act also contains a reference record of states that have adopted intrastate agreements in their legislation.
Mutual Aid Contract
This is a form of a contract among governmental which allows for the use of local disaster response under the patronage of EMAC. Among the cooperative agreements include the Intrastate Mutual Aid System (IMAS) and Emergency Management Committee (IAFC).
Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP)
HSEEP is an exercise program based on capabilities and performance to offer a homogeneous policy, style and communication for and evaluating all mitigation exercises. HSEEP also facilitates the development of self-sufficient programs by providing tools and finances, guidance, technology training and exercise support (HSEEP, 2013). This combined approach to HSEEP performance promotes expertise in the exercise and advances a uniform means of assessing and promoting preparedness all over the nation. HSEEP provides general processes and policies that are practical for the exercise planners. The HSEEP delivers program guidelines with disaster lessons learned as well as existing preparedness exercise’s best practices. The HSEEP also suggests strategies that make exercise programs to go hand in hand with broader field of disaster preparedness activities like training and material purchases.
Exercises have a crucial role in national disaster preparedness by giving the entire community and related players to experiment and validate disaster preparedness plans and mitigation capabilities. The program helps the stakeholders to identify their disaster mitigation capabilities and identify areas for improvement (HSEEP, 2013). A properly designed and implemented exercise program provides a low-risk environment to experiment preparedness capabilities. Disaster response personnel involved in the exercise will also foster significant interaction and communication among themselves and among the participating organizations. The HSEEP also provide crucial principles that guide the exercise programs (HSEEP, 2013). The HSEEP also provides a common approach to the organization and conducting of individual exercises. The HSEEP approach also supports all national preparedness missions and improves disaster related planning.
Training and Exercises Program
Individuals working in emergency management programs and disaster response units at all governance levels of including leadership positions need to be appropriately trained. They need the training on disaster preparedness so as to improve their all-hazards response capabilities all over the country (Donald, et al 2012). In addition, non-governmental institutions and private organizations with express roles in disaster response operations should also take part in NIMS training and disaster response exercises. This is because the standardized NIMS courses focus on the organizational and operational harmonization of disaster response processes and systems. These courses are also focused on disaster-specific expertise to ensure that disaster management and response units can function simultaneously and effectively during an occurrence. NIMS Training and exercises is specifically tailored to the tasks of the disaster personnel involved in the management and response of an incident. The NIMS personel mentoring allows the less experienced individuals to observe and learn from the more experience experts during an actual incident (Donald, et al 2012). This is what makes all disaster management players to be incorporated in the program to enhance their training and exercising.
Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP)
The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program gives grants to state, local governments, eligible private and non-profit institutions to implement affordable and long-term mitigation programs after a major disaster affirmation (OHSEP, 2009). The sum of financial funding given is proportional to the total disaster costs which make it vary in different disaster situations. Any reasonable mitigation program is eligible for HMGP funding to ensure that any vulnerable community can apply for the funds.
HMGP funding is uses a “sliding scale” formula to allocate funds based on the proportion of the amount spent on the programs the declared disaster. The program should be to provide assistance for a disaster that has been declared by the president (Donald, et al 2012). The principle gives 15% of the anticipated total amounts of disaster aid for States with an ordinary State Mitigation program (OHSEP, 2009). States with a superior state mitigation plans get additional 5% to make a total of 20% of the anticipated total amounts of disaster aid.
Grant applications for the HMGP funding are delivered to WEM, which sets alleviation priorities and allocates grants depending on the funding available and the established criteria. FEMA carries the final suitability review to make sure that the funded projects comply with the set Federal regulations (OHSEP, 2009). They should also comply with the federal law that demands states to maintain mitigation plans that are approved by FEMA in order to receive HMGP project funds. The organized mitigation plan should categorize hazards, evaluate the state needs and express a community risk strategy that is related to natural disasters.
HMGP funds are granted to finance projects that will eliminate or reduce future effects of disasters. To qualify, projects must provide solution of log term nature to disaster problems. A good example is a project to elevate a home structure to reduce flooding damages other than using sandbags and pumps to handle the flood. Another requirement is that the cost of implementing the project must be less than the potential savings that it achieves. Examples of projects that are eligible under this program include acquisition of a property, retrofitting structures and elevation of structures prone to floods (OHSEP, 2009). Also included is the funds for the development of flood control projects particularly to protect critical facilities as well as post-disaster building and structures to support building in the reconstruction process
To get funded by the HMGP, the community or the institution must take part in mitigation and operate in accordance with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). According to the regulations of the program projects should be environmentally sound economical and solution oriented towards reduction of disaster damages (Donald, et al 2012). HMGP approved Projects can protect either public property and establishments or private property. Projects to be funded under HMGP get 75% in federal funding and12.5% state funding while the applicant caters for the remaining12.5% of the costs.
Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program (PDM)
The Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) Program is a countrywide aggressive program that funds local and state governments to execute practical and economical disaster mitigation activities. The funding under the PDM program may be awarded for building or modernizing of all disaster mitigation plans and projects. The main concern is to complete an approvable plan for the local mitigation plan. Successful projects usually get 75% of the total project costs from the federal funding while the applicant covers the remaining 25% of the project costs. The community may be encouraged to support through in-kind services and also in dollars since no local share. All the applicants for the Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) Program must be involved in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or in a Special Flood Hazard Area. Additionally, the community applying for the program must not have been suspended or on probation by the NFIP.
Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA)
The Flood Mitigation Assistance is a cost-sharing program in which communities can apply for grants to establish comprehensive disaster and flood mitigation programs and implement flood mitigation projects. To receive FMA funds, the applying Communities must be members of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The general goal of FMA is to finance reasonable measures that eliminate or reduce the long-term risk associated with flood damage to buildings insured by the NFIP-insured, homes and other structures (ICMA, n.d). The FMA has other goals such as to reduce the number of repeatedly damaged structures, encourage long-term mitigation planning and to respond to community disaster needs. The FMA also complements other related mitigation programs established by the federal and state authorities.
FMA grants are available in two types: project grants and planning grants. Project grants of the program are set to implement mitigation measures that reduce losses to properties insured by NFIP by acquiring, relocating, elevating or demolishing these buildings. Communities that are participating in NFIP have access to Flood Mitigation programs and all hazard mitigation plans that are in place. Planning grants on the other hand are used to evaluate flood risks and build up Flood Mitigation Plans and reduce the risks. The grants are allocated to the state depending on the insurance policies adopted by the applicants as well as the number of reported cases of loss properties.
Repetitive Flood Claims Program (RFC)
This grant program supports communities and states to reduce flood damages to properties that are insured and have valid claims to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The Repetitive Flood Claims grant program can also support purchase of properties or relocation of flood-prone buildings especially where the use of the structure has been restricted. The RFC program grants are allocated to applicants on a national basis with no considerations to State quotas or other state discriminatory grant allocations. All Repetitive Flood Claims Program grants are entitled up to 100% of federal funding.
Allocation will be given priority to finance acquisitions that provide more savings to the National Flood Insurance Fund depending on an economic analysis of costs versus benefits. A state that is approved under the NFIP standards is eligible even when a local plan is not needed but at the time of application all properties involved must be insured. Under the RFC grant award, FEMA can allocate up to 100% of the total approved amount to execute an approved project. This happens if the applicant has established that the planned activities can not be financed under the FMA program because of lack of capacity by the state or inability to manage the 25% match.
Severe Repetitive Loss Program (SRL)
The Severe Repetitive Loss grant is a program that provides assistance to reduce long-term risk associated with flood damages to structures approved under the SRL and insured under the NFIP. A property is described as an SRL property if it is a residential property insured under an NFIP flood insurance policy with four NFIP claims payments, each worth $5,000. The building should also have made at least 2 payments within a 10-year period or two different claims payments. These payments should have cumulative amount of the building in the claims being more than the market value of the building.
Under the SRL program, funds are granted every year to States based on the quantity of Severe Repetitive Loss properties existing in the applying state. SRL grants for eligible activities under the program including structure elevation, building relocation or structure demolition of residential and commercial properties. The program also grants for property flood proofing measures, minor flood control projects, demolition projects as well as property rebuilding. The SRL grants can be allocated for up to 90% in federal cost. This State Mitigation Plan always addresses the state can carry measures to reduce properties that are classified as severe repetitive loss properties.