More federal funding available for disaster mitigation projects
By Mary Scott Nabers
At a time when an abundance of federal funding is already aiding state and local governments, even more is about to be released. This new funding will be allocated to public entities to support critical projects related to disaster mitigation.
The funding will come from a Hazard Mitigation Assistance program within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). One program, BRIC, short for the full name ̶ Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities ̶ is authorized to distribute $1 billion for hazard mitigation projects. Specifically, BRIC funding is intended to support efforts related to capability and capacity building, collaborative initiatives, and other types of critical projects that could be impacted by weather. Public entities already have applied for this grant funding, and awards are expected to be announced this month.
NOAA, a division of the Department of Commerce, recently announced weather predictions because the country is entering hurricane season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that this year will be an active weather season. The Climate Prediction Center has estimated that the country is likely to experience 13 to 20 named storms with six to 10 of them potentially becoming hurricanes.
Some of the states hoping to receive the disaster mitigation funding are listed.
The Maryland Emergency Management Agency requested funding for several projects, many of which are construction related. Maryland’s request is valued at more than $78 million.
Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management requested funding of approximately $190 million for eight state and local projects. Six of the proposed projects are categorized as mitigation projects.
Minot City requested $9.4 million to address flooding concerns. The city’s engineering project involves constructing a new culvert and creating an underground river system to direct flood waters away from structures. The total cost for the planned project is $13.4 million.
The cities of Centreville, Alorton, and Cahokia applied for $22 million in funding for enhancements to their sewage systems. When the Mississippi River water level rises, so does the groundwater. These projects are critical to the citizens in this region, and if funding is granted, the work should begin immediately.
The state of Florida requested more than $200 million from the BRIC program for flood mitigation projects. If funding is approved, projects will begin soon.
Many communities and states are already making plans to apply for the next round of funding. Projects are under discussion in numerous states. Examples of what to expect follow.
North Carolina has allocated state funds to help communities develop plans, assess vulnerabilities, and develop resiliency projects. The most recent legislative session authorized $200 million for regional assistance related to seeking funding from the program.
The south fork of the Licking River has experienced flooding issues for more than two decades. A request for grant funding will be submitted by the Buckeye Lake Region Corporation on behalf of Fairfield and Perry counties this fall. The request will outline a project to raise the level of Interstate 70 and improve the river’s flood-prone South Fork.
Pinellas County plans to ask for funding to address vulnerable structures. The funding would be used for projects that target public safety and the protection of communities within the county. Even more funding is available through other federal programs, and local governments are eagerly competing for this type of assistance as well. Here are examples of activity that is common throughout the U.S.
The federal government gave the state of Texas $2.3 billion in Community Development Block Grant Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) funding to distribute. Decisions were made at the state level as to how the funding would be allocated. Two cities in Guadalupe County will receive $47.8 million for flood mitigation projects that focus on drainage, water, and wastewater improvements. The city of Seguin was awarded $37.8 million, and the city of Marion was awarded $9.9 million.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allocated a $1.2 billion line of credit in CDBG-MIT funds for flood risk reduction priorities throughout Louisiana. The state soon will begin funding vital flood protection projects consistent with its Action Plan.
The plan includes a round one funding opportunity for local and regional projects that are implementation-ready to address immediate flood mitigation needs. Louisiana plans to spend $61.6 million in federal funding on 16 flood risk reduction projects.
Some of the 2021 awarded projects and funding amounts include:
- $10 million for a Chatlin Lake Canal backwater overflow relief structure in Rapides Parish.
- $8.5 million for Bayou Duplantier floodplain acquisition in East Baton Rouge Parish.
- $5.7 million for Ward Creek floodplain acquisition in East Baton Rouge Parish.
- $5.36 million for Ockley Basin storage project in Caddo Parish.
- $5.3 million for Huffman Creek pump station and outfall improvements in Rapides Parish.
- $4.7 million for Coulee Mine East detention project in Lafayette Parish.
- $4.7 million for Cypress Bayou green infrastructure in East Baton Rouge Parish.
Virginia’s Department of Conservation and Recreation has announced the opening of the first grant round for a newly created Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund. For the next three months, communities in Virginia may apply for $18 million in grants to address the effects of recurrent flooding, sea level rise, and extreme weather. The fund will provide an estimated $75 million a year. Specialty firms and companies offering construction, engineering, planning, design, and project management will find an extremely high demand for their services as the country focuses on sustainability and mitigating weather-related disasters.
Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S. Her recently released book, Inside the Infrastructure Revolution: A Roadmap for Building America, is a handbook for contractors, investors and the public at large seeking to explore how public-private partnerships or joint ventures can help finance their infrastructure projects.