Federal Partnership Aims to Build Infrastructural Resilience to Natural Disasters

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently joined the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and federal partners — in coordination with experts across governmental agencies, academia and nongovernmental organizations – to announce the agency’s participation in the National Mitigation Investment Strategy (NMIS).

The NMIS provides a national, whole-community approach to investments in mitigation activities and risk management across federal, state, local, and tribal and territorial government, along with the private and nonprofit sectors.

“Investing in mitigation efforts will enable EPA to better protect human health and the environment in the face of natural disasters,” says EPA’s Acting Associate Administrator of the Office of Homeland Security Ted Stanich. “Together our collective efforts will continue to build resilience across the nation.”

The investment strategy’s overarching goal is to improve the coordination and effectiveness of “mitigation investments,” which are defined as risk management actions taken to avoid, reduce or transfer risks from natural hazards, including severe weather.

Below are recent examples of EPA’s investment in mitigation strategies across the country.

  • Regional resilience technical assistance — After helping three California regions take large-scale action for disaster resilience, EPA and FEMA partnered with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission/Association of Bay Area Governments to create a toolkit that helps regions plan for disasters by working across multiple jurisdictions and with nongovernmental partners. The Regional Resilience Toolkit provides a step-by-step process to help decision makers engage with partners and stakeholders, conduct vulnerability assessments, identify and prioritize strategies, fund projects and evaluate results.
  • Integrating water quality and nature-based approaches into hazard mitigation plans — EPA’s Office of Water and Office of Community Revitalization are partnering with FEMA to help states and communities integrate hazard mitigation plans and water quality plans. Project locations include: Commonwealth of Massachusetts; Albany, New York; Huntington, West Virginia; Ashland, Oregon; the state of Kentucky; Lower Meramec Valley, Missouri; Denton, Texas; Phoenix/Maricopa County, Arizona; and Mystic River, Massachusetts. Results, to date, demonstrate the benefits of using green infrastructure for multiple community goals including hazard mitigation, water quality and floodplain management. Several of the communities are already seeing reduced flood insurance rates based on adoption of stormwater policies that reduce risk, according to EPA officials
  • Building flood resilience in Vermont — In 2011, Tropical Storm Irene caused significant flood damage to historic structures, homes and businesses in Vermont’s Mad River Valley. In 2012 at Vermont’s request, EPA partnered with FEMA to identify state and local policy options to increase community flood resilience. The state adopted several of the strategies that emerged from the workshop. The project developed a Flood Resilience Checklist that communities can use to assess their preparedness for future flooding events. The state provided this checklist to several other Vermont communities through a follow-up project, the Vermont Economic Resiliency Initiative, and the checklist is the basis for the Flood Resilience for Riverine and Coastal Communities tool offered by EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program.

Recommendations proposed in the NMIS will reduce loss of life and injuries, damage to property, and negative impacts to the economy and the environment while leading the whole community in building a more resilient future, according to EPA officials.

For more information on the NMIS, visit www.fema.gov/national-mitigation-investment-strategy.


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