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May 8, 2008




Local governments to pay lower federal match for program designed to increase community safety, disaster preparedness


(JACKSON, Mississippi) — Local governments needing hazard mitigation grants to increase community safety and disaster preparedness will pay less money to match federal dollars, Governor Haley Barbour announced today.


State and local governments, private non-profits or tribal governments that apply for monetary assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program will only be responsible for 5 percent of their project costs instead of the 25 percent local share normally required after a major disaster, the Governor said. Twenty percent of the total cost share will be met with state money approved by the Legislature after Hurricane Katrina.


“Following Hurricane Katrina, the federal government allocated more than $400 million in mitigation funds to make Mississippi communities safer and stronger. But the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster in American history, resulted in many communities unable to meet a 25 percent cost share match,” Governor Barbour said.


“For the past two years, we have worked to develop ways to clear this hurdle for coastal rebuilding. Today’s announcement is great news for local governments which are now poised to better utilize assistance opportunities available through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program without the burden of overwhelming costs.”


The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which is administered by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, pays 75 percent of costs for approved mitigation projects with the remaining 25 percent cost being the responsibility of state and local governments. However, money approved by the State Legislature following Hurricane Katrina will be used to guarantee the initial 20 percent cost share to FEMA in place of local government funds.


The Governor’s Office, MEMA, and the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration are working with FEMA to secure credits for non-federally funded mitigation projects along the Gulf Coast that ultimately will repay money into the state, said MEMA Director Mike Womack.


Projects being used to help Mississippi receive federal credit include such things as:


• Water and wastewater projects along the Gulf Coast;
• Hardening of wharves and docks at Port of Gulfport;
• Public utilities and Electrical Power Associations securitization and rebuilding; and
• Commercial projects.

The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program is funded by FEMA and administered by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, which identifies and manages the projects from beginning to closeout. The objectives of mitigation projects are to reduce or eliminate future risk to lives and property from all hazards, provide funds to implement projects previously identified in state or local hazard mitigation plans, and enable mitigation measures to be implemented during the immediate recovery from a disaster. Typical HMGP projects include critical infrastructure, draining projects, hazard mitigation planning, elevations and property acquisitions.

Since Hurricane Katrina, state agencies, local governments, private non-profits and tribal governments eligible for the 5 percent cost share have completed more than 230 mitigation project applications. Another 160 applications are still in development.