Response & Recovery - Disaster Assistance - Hazard Mitigation

Disaster Assistance

Hazard Mitigation

Hazard Mitigation refers to sustained measures enacted to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property from natural hazards and their effects. In the long term, mitigation measures reduce personal loss, save lives, and reduce the cost to the nation of responding to and recovering from disasters.

Two sections of the Stafford Act, §404 and §406, authorize hazard mitigation funds when a Federal disaster has been declared. In each case, the Federal government can provide up to 75 percent of the cost, with some restrictions.

Through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), authorized by §404 of the Act, communities can apply for mitigation funds through the State. The State, as grantee, is responsible for notifying potential applicants of the availability of funding, defining a project selection process, ranking and prioritizing projects, and forwarding projects to FEMA for funding.  The applicant or subgrantee carries out approved projects. The State, local government or homeowner must provide a 25 percent match, which can be fashioned from a combination of cash and in-kind sources. Federal funding from other sources cannot be used for the 25 percent non-federal share with one exception. Funding provided to States under the Community Development Block Grant program from the Department of Housing and Urban Development can be used for the non-federal share.

Total Federal funding under HMGP is based on a sliding scale of the estimated grants for individual assistance programs and public assistance projects.  Section 322 of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 emphasizes the importance of planning in reducing disaster losses.  States were required to develop a State Mitigation Plan that provided a summary of the hazards facing them, an assessment of the risks and vulnerabilities to those hazards, and a strategy for reducing those impacts.  These plans were required by May 1, 2005 as a condition of non-emergency assistance under the Stafford Act, and must be reviewed and updated every three years.  States may choose to develop an Enhanced State Mitigation Plan in order to receive an increased amount of up to 20 percent for Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding.  By November 1, 2004, local jurisdictions also were required to develop mitigation plans in order to be eligible for project grant funding under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.  In addition, States may use a set-aside of up to five percent of the total HMGP funds available for mitigation measures at their discretion.  To be eligible, a set-aside project must be identified in a State's hazard mitigation plan and fulfill the goal of the HMGP,  that is, to reduce or prevent future damage to property or prevent loss of life or injury.

Eligible mitigation measures under the HMGP include acquisition or relocation of property located in high-hazard areas; elevation of flood prone structures; seismic rehabilitation of existing structures; strengthening of existing structures against wildfire; dry flood proofing activities that bring a structure into compliance with minimum NFIP requirements and State or local code.   Up to seven percent of the HMGP funds may be used to develop State and/or local mitigation plans. 

All HMGP projects, including set-aside projects, must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and all relevant Executive Orders.  HMGP grants cannot be given for acquisition, elevation, or construction purposes if the site is located in a designated Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and the community is not participating in the NFIP.

Funding under §406 that is used for the repair or replacement of damaged public facilities or infrastructure may be used to upgrade the facilities to meet current codes and standards.  It is possible for mitigation measures to be eligible for funding under both the HMGP and §406 programs; however, if the proposed measure is funded through §406, the project is not eligible for funds under the HMGP as well.