Infrastructure Deal Provides FEMA Billions for Community Mitigation Investments

President Joe Biden recently signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The legislation takes decisive action, allowing $1.2 trillion to tackle the climate crisis and strengthen the nation’s resilience, including underserved communities that are most vulnerable.

Notably, the Act provides $6.8 billion that FEMA will invest in communitywide mitigation to reduce disaster suffering and avoid future disaster costs in the face of more frequent and severe events arising from wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, tornados and floods. 

“The pace and severity of natural disasters in this country are undeniably increasing. The resources required to respond and recover from these events requires bold action from across the federal government,” says FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell.

“The bipartisan infrastructure deal provides FEMA an additional $6.8 billion to continue to address climate change through mitigation projects and establishes a new Cybersecurity Grant program. These resources will greatly assist in our agency’s rigorous efforts to help communities build resilience and bolster their preparedness for future events.”

These funds are complementing previous award programs that FEMA has amplified to make the nation more resilient. In August, FEMA committed $3.46 billion through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program across the 59 major disaster declarations issued due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. FEMA also committed $1.16 billion earlier this year for the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities and Flood Mitigation Assistance grant programs in the Fiscal Year 2021 application cycle.

In line with the White House’s Justice40 Initiative created by the Executive Order 14008 in January, these investments aim to advance environmental justice, reduce community disaster vulnerability, promote individual and community safety and strengthen the nation's ability to adapt to changing conditions.

Highlights

The Act provides $3.5 billion in Flood Mitigation Assistance grants over five years. In previous years, the annual grant cycle for the Flood Mitigation Assistance program ranged from $150 to $200 million per year. The Act more than triples the amount available for future flood mitigation.

Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) supports states, local communities, tribes and territories as they undertake hazard mitigation projects, reducing the risks they face from disasters and natural hazards. The Act provides $1 billion over five years, which is in addition to the funding FEMA provides through setting aside up to 6% of the assistance the agency provides following major disaster declarations through the Public Assistance and Individuals and Households Program. The funding is based off an estimated 180 days after each declaration and does not include funding made available through the Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant programs.

Dams also play a vital role in the nation’s overall infrastructure. For the next five years, $733 million is awarded to FEMA in dam safety grants to states and territories to enhance dam safety and rehabilitate or remove aging dams.

The STORM Act was signed into law on Jan. 1 and authorizes FEMA to provide capitalization grants to states or eligible tribal governments to establish revolving loan funds to provide hazard mitigation assistance to local governments to reduce risks to disasters and natural hazards. The Infrastructure Act provides $500 million to the STORM Act, or $100 million per year for five years. This new FEMA grant program may finance water, wastewater, infrastructure, disaster recovery, community and small business development projects.

The Biden administration says it also recognizes strong cybersecurity practices are needed to support states, local communities, tribes and territories. The Act provides $1 billion over the next four years in a national effort to combat cyber threats and enhance cybersecurity grant programs.



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