In the previous issue of REVITALIZATION, an article showed how the Federal Emergency Management Agency‘s (FEMA) new leadership is helping the agency accelerate a long-needed shift away from merely responding to disasters and rebuilding places as they were.
They are now increasingly focused on helping places prevent or mitigate future disasters, and helping them rebuild in an integrated, equitable manner so they become more as they should be.
In many cases, such work undoes previous bad planning, or redesigns and renovates places that have grown to the point where previous planning is no longer appropriate.
Here’s just one small example of such preventive work in action.
On July 13, 2021, FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) released an initial $2,363,580 to the city of St. Cloud, Minnesota, for a ravine stabilization project.
The project involves installation of a new storm sewer to reroute the current sewer built in the 1920s.
“The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program provides funding for communities to implement critical mitigation measures to reduce disaster losses,” said Kevin M. Sligh, acting regional administrator, FEMA Region 5.
“This project will help restore the area’s natural infrastructure and reduce the damage that flooding could cause the community in the future,” he added.
The rerouting will establish a new water outlet to the Mississippi River and prevent excessive stormwater runoff from flowing to the ravine.
This mitigation measure will significantly reduce erosion in the area and allow the original storm pipe to provide a habitable environment for bats to hibernate there.
“This project will help prevent erosion and the damage it can cause, especially during heavy rain events,” HSEM Director Joe Kelly said.
“We are grateful for these federal grants, which have helped communities across Minnesota reduce the risk of loss of life and property due to natural hazards,” he continued.
HMGP provides grants to state and local governments to implement long-term hazard mitigation measures following a disaster declaration.
Through HMGP, FEMA will pay 75 percent of the $3,151,440 eligible project cost. The remaining 25 percent of the funds will be provided by the city of St. Cloud. FEMA will also provide an initial $78,786 in management costs for project implementation.
Photo courtesy of the City of St. Cloud.