Thursday, October 11, 2018

New Federal Disaster Recovery Reform Bill Signed Into Law Establishing First Federal Pre-Disaster Infrastructure Resilience Program

On October 5, the federal Disaster Recovery Reform Act was signed into law that for the first time establishes a National Public Infrastructure Pre-Disaster Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for states and make other changes.   The reforms would--
-- Provide a greater investment in mitigation before a disaster: Authorizing the National Public Infrastructure Pre-Disaster Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which will be funded through the Disaster Relief Fund that would allocate 6 percent of the combined obligations estimated following a major disaster (unemployment assistance, assistance to low-income migrant and seasonal farmworkers and crisis counseling assistance and training) to mitigation assistance (Section 1234).
  -- This program will focus on funding public infrastructure projects that increase community resilience before a disaster occurs.
  -- Previously, funding for pre-disaster mitigation grants relied on congressional appropriations which varied from year to year. Now, with a reliable stream of sufficient funding, communities will be able to plan and execute mitigation programs to reduce disaster risk nationwide.
  --According to a 2017 National Institute of Building Sciences report, the nation saves six dollars in future disaster costs for every one dollar invested in mitigation activities.
-- Reducing risk from future disasters after fire: Providing hazard mitigation grant funding in areas that received Fire Management Assistance Grants as a result of wildfire.  Adding fourteen new mitigation project types associated with wildfires and windstorms.
-- Increasing state capacity to manage disaster recovery: Allowing for higher rates of reimbursement to state, local and tribal partners for their administrative costs when implementing public assistance (12 percent) and hazard mitigation projects (15 percent). Additionally, the legislation provides flexibility for states and tribes to administer their own post-disaster housing missions, while encouraging the development of disaster housing strategies.
  -- States, tribes, territories and local governments bear significant administrative costs implementing disaster recovery programs. Often these costs can be high and substantially burdensome for the impacted entity to meet.  Increasing the funding for administrative costs will enable faster, more effective delivery of vital recovery programs to communities.
  -- State and tribal officials have the best understanding of the temporary housing needs for survivors in their communities. This provision incentivizes innovation, cost containment and prudent management by providing general eligibility requirements while allowing them the flexibility to design their own programs.
Click Here for a copy of the new law (begins on page 11).
(Photo: Flood damage in York County from earlier this year.)
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