ELIZABETHTOWN — More money is coming down the pipeline for Bladen County residents affected by Hurricane Matthew.
Fifty counties in North Carolina — Bladen County among them — will soon be the recipients of $100 million that has been set aside by FEMA for a special program. The agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program is an effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters. Through mitigation, state, tribal, and local governments identify risks and vulnerabilities associated with natural disasters and develop long-term strategies for protecting people and property from repeated damage.
Available to communities in the wake of a federal disaster declaration, like Hurricane Matthew, funds enable projects for individual homeowners, businesses, and private non-profits. Such projects might include the purchase of real property or demolition or relocation of buildings to create open space, retrofitting structures to minimize natural disaster damage, elevation of flood prone structures, development of vegetative management programs, and minor or localized flood control projects such as levees and floodwall systems, to name a few.
Money can also be used by state, tribal, and local government to increase education and awareness of threats, hazards, and vulnerabilities or to develop a hazard mitigation plan. Projects must provide a long-term solution to a problem (home elevation as opposed to buying sandbags), and the potential savings must be more than the cost of the project.
Under FEMA’s program, organizations or states sponsor applications. Individuals or entities complete applications and turn them to the sponsoring agent, which then makes difficult decisions regarding the most effective use of grant funds. After determining if they meet the program’s requirements, the agency forwards the applications to FEMA for review and approval.
“Most (people who apply) will have had flood waters in their home,” said Bladen County Emergency Management Director Bradley Kinlaw, when explaining the program to the county commissioners Monday. He added that the local application process will be administered by Kimberly Talbert.
Kinlaw said a public campaign will begin soon to attract applications. In the meantime, additional information can be found by visiting www.fema.gov/hazard-mitigation-grant-program.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.