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S.3418 – Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation Act of 2020 (STORM Act)

January 1, 2021

The Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation Act of 2020 (STORM Act), enacted January 1st, 2021, amends the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U. S. C. 5131) to authorize grants to establish hazard mitigation revolving loan fund programs. The programs are intended to fund projects that mitigate natural hazards including wildfires, earthquakes, drought, severe storm events, erosion, storm surges, and high water levels. The goal of the funding is to support risk reduction for local governments by decreasing loss of life and property, insurance costs, and the necessity for future federal disaster relief.

Related Organizations: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Resource Category: Law and Governance

 

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FEMA Guides to Expanding Mitigation

September 2020

FEMA’s Guides to Expanding Mitigation are part of a series designed to highlight how emerging partnerships connecting communities to public and private actors in key sectors can support more effective hazard mitigation projects and planning. The guides cover a range of sectors and topics, including equity, transportation, electric power, municipal financing, public health, agriculture, and arts and culture. This project supports FEMA’s goal of building a culture of preparedness as part of the agency’s strategic plan.

Related Organizations: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Resource Category: Planning

 

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FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Grant Program

August 2020

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant program is designed to support state, territorial, and local governments and federally recognized tribes in their efforts to undertake hazard mitigation projects to reduce risks stemming from natural hazards and disasters. BRIC funding is available on an annual basis in states that have received a presidential disaster declaration in the past seven years from the date when FEMA issues a Notice of Funding Opportunity. The purpose of the BRIC grant program is to provide a consistent, sustainable source of federal pre-disaster funding to shift the focus away from post-disaster recovery spending by building community resilience before future hazards and disasters occur. The BRIC program replaced FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation grant program that served a similar purpose, but was administered differently and was not prescribed by Congress to be available on an annual basis. 

 

Related Organizations: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Resource Category: Funding

 

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Communities of Oakland Respond to Emergencies - Oakland, California

July 29, 2020

Oakland, California’s Communities of Oakland Respond to Emergencies (CORE) program is a free educational and training program offered by the Oakland Fire Department that promotes the creation of emergency preparedness in the face of a disaster event. Offered mainly to individuals, neighborhood groups, and community-based organizations, CORE training focuses on teaching its students how to become more self-sufficient during emergency events for a period of up to 10 days following a disaster. Outreach to attract participants has focused on reaching lower-income communities, multilingual individuals, disabled residents, and other groups or people with access and functional needs. The overall purpose of the CORE program is to not only improve access to disaster response training, materials, and services, but also to reduce risks associated with current and future climate events. Since its founding, CORE has reached over 20,000 people throughout the Oakland community.

Related Organizations: Oakland, California Fire Department

Resource Category: Education and Outreach

 

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U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loan Program

The U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was established as an independent agency in 1952 with a mission to help Americans start, build, and grow businesses. SBA offers a range of financing and other assistance in a post-disaster context. The SBA Disaster Loan Program supports businesses, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners, and renters located in declared disaster areas by providing affordable, timely, and accessible low-interest, long-term loans for losses not fully covered by insurance or other means.

Resource Category: Funding

 

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New York State Resilient NY Flood Mitigation Studies, Buyouts, and Floodplain Restoration Projects

2018

Multiple serious flood events, hurricanes, and storms have prompted New York State’s (NYS) Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to develop a range of mitigation and adaptation initiatives to address future flood hazards and improve community resilience. The state is completing a series of Flood and Ice Jam Mitigation Studies within 48 high-priority watersheds across New York State - as a part of an initiative called Resilient NY - to identify the causes of flooding and ice jams and to evaluate priority mitigation projects, like buyouts, to reduce risks. New York’s example is noteworthy for selecting buyouts as part of a comprehensive flood-risk mitigation analysis as a result of Flood and Ice Jam Mitigation Studies, compared to other buyout programs that utilize standalone eligibility criteria based on existing floodplain maps (e.g., a property is eligible for buyouts based on flood zones). Where buyouts are identified as a priority option to mitigate future flood risk, DEC can work with local governments through a unique partnership to remove structures from vulnerable areas and restore floodplains. Specifically, the state can oversee and provide support for locally led and administered buyout programs that can be applied across the state’s watersheds. This data-driven, state-local approach to buyouts can serve as a model for other jurisdictions considering buyouts and floodplain restoration as managed retreat strategies at the community level that would benefit from statewide consistency, assistance, and resources.

Related Organizations: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Catalyst Miami Disaster Matched Savings Account

The Catalyst Miami Disaster Matched Savings Account was established as a resource for low- and moderate-income individuals within Miami, Florida neighborhoods to help families build financial stability, and better withstand disaster events. The program helps households build assets and savings through the use of financial coaching, credit coaching, and lending circles. The program encourages savings behavior and offers a 1-to-1 match as an incentive. In addition, Catalyst Miami distributes disaster preparedness kits to those who partake in the Program by saving the full amount of the cost of the kit. It also provides important information about hurricane season, along with emergency preparedness resources available from local government and community partners both before and after storms. By supplying communities with these disaster preparedness kits, as well as with teaching participants how to bank and save responsibly, Catalyst Miami helps low-income, underserved communities better withstand the shocks – economic and otherwise – often associated with disaster events. 

Related Organizations: Catalyst Miami

Resource Category: Funding

 

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Post-Disaster Community Investments in Lumberton Through the North Carolina State Acquisition and Relocation Fund for Buyout Relocation Assistance

2020

Lumberton, North Carolina provides one example of how state funding for relocation assistance can help support local buyouts and community investments in underserved areas. In 2016, the small community of Lumberton was devastated by Hurricane Matthew when the Lumber River flooded over 870 households, as well as a number of businesses. As the city was beginning to recover, only two years later, Lumberton was hit a second time by Hurricane Florence, resulting in damage to over 500 structures. As of 2019, Lumberton is seeking to leverage several grants and funding programs, including North Carolina’s State Acquisition and Relocation Fund (SARF), to rebuild the community and provide residents with relocation assistance to obtain new homes in Lumberton through a state-local partnership. Specifically, with funding from SARF, the local government is considering opportunities to invest in new homes in one existing, but underserved neighborhood of Lumberton that can offer safer homes for bought-out residents. As SARF and the ongoing work in Lumberton demonstrate, state and local governments can support voluntary, post-disaster transitions of people and minimize negative impacts to individuals, communities, and local tax bases from buyouts by reinvesting in underserved areas within their municipalities. 

Related Organizations: City of Lumberton, North Carolina, State of North Carolina

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, North Carolina: Floodplain Buyout Program

July 15, 2020

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services (CMSS) — a county-wide regional utility in North Carolina — has been administering a Floodplain Buyout Program to relocate vulnerable residents out of floodplains and reduce long-term flood damage. The buyout program is focused on risk reduction and flood mitigation best practices, where once bought out, properties are returned to open space uses to restore their natural beneficial flood retention and water quality improvement functions and provide other community amenities, like parks and trails. CMSS has purchased more than 400 flood-prone homes and businesses and enabled over 700 families and businesses to relocate to less vulnerable locations outside of the floodplain. CMSS has also supported a number of leaseback arrangements on a case-by-case basis with property owners to increase participation in the buyout program and reduce the county’s property maintenance costs. The program has been funded through a combination of federal and local government sources, with leasebacks also supporting the recapture of some costs. Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Floodplain Buyout Program is an example of a nationally recognized approach to supporting voluntary retreat in a riverine floodplain. Other local governments could consider adopting a comprehensive buyout program like Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s or individual program elements, like local funding options or leasebacks, to help support voluntary retreat decisions in coastal areas experiencing sea-level rise, impacts from disaster events, and land loss. This case study is one of 17 case studies featured in a report written by the Georgetown Climate Center, Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas: Lessons and Tools from 17 Case Studies.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Act of 1970

The Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Act of 1970 (URA) (42 U. S. C. §§ 4621 et seq. (2020); 49 C. F. R. pt. 24 (2020)) is a federal law enacted to provide standard and predictable real property acquisition and relocation expenses for homeowners and tenants of land acquired through eminent domain. URA ensures consistent treatment for people displaced through federal programs or with federal funding. State and local governments can learn and draw from URA when evaluating the amount and types of relocation assistance potentially provided for bought-out homeowners and tenants as a part of comprehensive retreat strategies.

Resource Category: Law and Governance

 

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