FEMA Turns Focus Towards Resiliency
A newly released draft federal National Mitigation Investment Strategy stresses the nation must become more resilient through better agency coordination, stricter building codes and development of more natural features such as wetlands. The strategy, released Jan. 11, also emphasizes the importance of mitigation investments from private businesses, nonprofit organizations and local governments. The plan, the first of its kind, was sparked by a Government Accountability Office report that recommended such a strategy be developed following Hurricane Sandy.
In a blog about the strategy, Daniel Kaniewski, acting deputy administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the current system, with different programs through different agencies, creates “a complicated mix of priorities and pathways,” for pre-disaster mitigation funds. FEMA chairs the Mitigation Framework Leadership Group, a federal group overseeing the plan.
While the Trump Administration’s first budget recommended FEMA pre-disaster mitigation grants to be cut by half, FEMA Administrator Brock Long has repeatedly told Congress he would like to spend even more money on such programs.
Hank Hatch, retired Army Corps Commander and a senior advisor at Dawson Associates, welcomed the strategy and said it was a good way to encourage dialogue about the topic. “The call for increased non-federal spending for disaster mitigation is likely not as important as improving the coordination of all parties’ current spending. Improving coordination would increase the effectiveness of those investments.”
The draft document is open for comment until March. 11. The leadership group expects to finalize the strategy this year. The group is asking for comments on issues including what incentives could be used to encourage more non-federal investments.