Preparedness, Mitigation and Response Grants for Natural Disasters

April 28, 2011 | By Liza Casabona | Post a Comment

This year continues to bring stories about natural disasters wreaking havoc around the globe. Today, our thoughts are with those communities and individuals in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and elsewhere that have been pummeled by deadly storms and tornadoes this week. As they begin to assess and clean up the damage wrought by the storms, those communities must find a way to move past the destruction.

Such tragic events translate to scores of communities faced with the economic challenges of rebuilding. There is some federal funding available for those kinds of activities. Where and how can those funds be found?

A wealth of grants are aimed at helping communities with preparedness, mitigation and response efforts for everything from natural disasters like tornadoes, floods and earthquakes to manmade disasters like terrorism. The majority of those programs are administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (http://www.fema.gov/), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security (http://www.dhs.gov/index.shtm). While an increased amount of federal resources has been funneled into anti-terrorism efforts in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks, there are still funds available for natural disaster preparation and response.

Once the president has officially declared a community a disaster area, as President Obama did for Alabama last night, the region is eligible for federal relief. FEMA’s Disaster Relief Program provides a wide range of grants, loans and special services. The program’s coverage includes cash assistance, community loans, crisis counseling, housing assistance, unemployment assistance and legal services. (http://www.fema.gov/government/grant/index.shtm )

Other services and funding available through FEMA include the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program, Flood Mitigation Assistance, the National Dam Safety Program, Firefighter Assistance Grants and the Hazardous Materials Training Program.

This week alone, FEMA distributed grants to Florida to fight wildfires (http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=54543) and made assistance available to Alabama for emergency services on an as needed basis (http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=54523).

The Small Business Administration offers funds that are not predicated on a presidential declaration of a state of emergency. SBA makes Disaster Relief Loans (http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/small-business-loans/disaster-loans) available to businesses and homeowners to help them mitigate losses that are suffered as a result of a disaster.

For many communities, those kinds of funds are critical resources in the face of natural and other disasters like the ones experienced across the South over the past few days. Communities that may not be adequately prepared for a local disaster would be wise to invest some time looking at and pursuing preparedness-related grants.

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