WASHINGTON — During Disaster Resilience Month in August, FEMA announced several bold actions to make the nation safer from extreme weather events and other hazards.
These include more than $4 billion in grant announcements and future funding opportunities, boosted by investments from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. As part of the rollout process, FEMA is expanding assistance to communities to increase grant access and revising materials to be simpler so governments navigate programs.
The announcements represent the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to increase climate resilience in order to protect people and infrastructure from natural hazards and the effects of climate change like more energized hurricanes with deadlier storm surges, extreme heat and more frequent and severe droughts, wildfires and floods .
“Hurricanes are more energized, wildfire season is now a year-long threat and devastating floods are becoming too common,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell. “These devastating effects of climate change and associated extreme weather are a call to action. FEMA, and the entire Biden-Harris Administration are answering that call, proactively expanding resilience investments to communities across the nation, with a special emphasis on those who need it the most.”
Aligning with FEMA’s strategic plan, the agency recognizes that when individuals and communities are climate literate, they are better positioned to take the necessary steps to apply that knowledge to build resilient communities. These grants are a tool to help the nation shift towards smart investments in system-based, community-wide projects to protect those at the most severe and persistent risk.
“As natural hazards worsen, it’s imperative to be proactive and find solutions that make communities safer,” said Deputy Administrator Erik A. Hooks. “The announcements we have made this month are a testament to FEMA’s commitment to supporting community resilience in a way which is both effective and equitable.”
While Disaster Resilience Month focuses on community and infrastructure actions, FEMA will now shift to promoting individual initiatives in National Preparedness Month, held annually in September.
Here’s a summary of announcements for Disaster Resilience Month:
- On Aug. 1 in Miami, Vice President Kamala Harris announced selections for $1.16 billion in climate resilience funding through two competitive grant programs — Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities and Flood Mitigation Assistance — to help communities across the nation enhance climate and disaster resilience.
- For BRIC, FEMA selected projects across all 10 FEMA regions with 53 states and territories, the District of Columbia and 271 different communities, including 33 tribes.
- The Flood Mitigation Assistance grant programs’ 19 states and 72 different communities will also receive funding.
- On Aug. 5, the Shoalwater Bay Tribe in Washington dedicated a FEMA-funded evacuation tower to keep his community safe from tsunamis.
- On Aug. 9, FEMA’s Region 5 Regional Administrator Tom Sivak toured areas of Wisconsin and the city of Madison. Sivak met with the Wisconsin Emergency Management Hazard Mitigation Program Supervisor and Engineer for the city of Madison to highlight the benefits of mitigation projects.
- On Aug. 12 in Gastonia, North Carolina, Administrator Criswell announced more than $3 billion in funding for the BRIC and Flood Mitigation Assistance programs for the next annual funding cycle. BRIC more than doubles to nearly $2.3 billion while the Flood Mitigation Assistance program is seeing a five-fold increase to $800 million.
- The administrator joined FEMA’s Region 4 Administrator Gracia Szczech and Gov. Roy Cooper to mark the city of Gastonia’s critical infrastructure restoration and stream protection project following its selection by FEMA for the FY 21 BRIC funding cycle. The project will use federal grant funding to restore a stream, stabilize a creek bank and realign critical water and power infrastructure.
- These funding levels are bolstered by nearly $900 million through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law: $200 million for BRIC and $700 million for Flood Mitigation Assistance. Both programs were vastly oversubscribed, representing the intense demand for climate resilience funding.
- On Aug. 12, FEMA announced expanding investment in the BRIC’s non-financial Direct Technical Assistance to at least 40 communities in the next grant cycle to help build capacity and capability at the local level. The assistance reduces barriers a community may face that could prevent them from accessing the BRIC program. It includes helping communities submit high-quality applications for innovative projects that can increase resilience. This is an increase from eight communities for FY 20 and 20 in FY 21.
- On Aug. 12, FEMA’s Region 10 Administrator Willie Nunn joined State of Washington and local officials to announce projects selected for the FY 21 funding cycle and the future FY 22 cycle. The event took place near the location of the planned North Shore Levee project, which was selected during the FY 21 cycle. It will provide critical flood protection for residents and businesses across Aberdeen and Hoquiam.
- On Aug. 23, FEMA’s Region 1 Administrator Paul Ford joined local and state officials to visit the wastewater treatment plant in Leominster, Massachusetts. The project will protect the plant’s infrastructure from potential failure following erosion along the Nashua River.
- On Aug. 24, FEMA published a notice in the Federal Register seeking public comment on updates to its Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program and Policy Guide. The guide provides helpful information for state, local, tribal and territorial governments seeking to successfully navigate the application and grant processes. It has been updated to be more equitable, reduce complexity and address climate resilience.
- On Aug. 29, FEMA announced the launch of a notice of intent for a future funding opportunity to reduce vulnerability to natural hazards, foster greater community resilience and reduce disaster suffering. The Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation Revolving Loan Fund program will provide no less than $50 million in capitalization grants to states to fund low-interest loans to local governments. Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, also commonly known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Congress appropriated $500 million for this opportunity through 2026.
- On Aug. 29 FEMA launched a new webpage Climate Resilience in Action to have a central focal point for different types of media stories that address the effects of climate change. There are a series of best practice stories and video stories highlighting how communities are protecting their legacies, building back stronger and becoming climate resilient.
- On Aug. 29, the FEMA’s Region 8 Administrator Nancy Dragani joined local officials in Provo, Utah to announce a water supply project received the maximum funding of $50 million for an aquifer storage recharge system, selected during the FY 21 cycle. The project will help maintain an adequate level of clean drinking water for the community.
- On Aug. 30, the City of Tulsa and State of Oklahoma officials joined FEMA’s Acting Deputy Administrator of Resilience, Victoria Salinas and the Region 6 Deputy Administrator representatives for an event marking the city’s resilience project being selected during the FY 21 BRIC project cycle. The flood reduction project will make infrastructure improvements by increasing the capacity of the storm sewer system and constructing two detention ponds and culverts.
- On Aug. 31, FEMA will make new support materials available to governments to help them apply for FEMA resilience grants. The materials aid state, local, tribal and territorial governments in submitting more successful Hazard Mitigation Grant Program applications.
- Materials also help them reduce the time it takes to receive awards. The application period for the $3.46 billion in HMGP funding available for all 59 COVID-19 major disaster declarations has been extended to provide more time for states, tribes and territories across the nation to work with communities in developing quality sub-applications that will make them more climate resilient.
For more information about FEMA’s hazard mitigation assistance programs, visit fema.gov.