Management and preparedness of an emergency is essential in mitigation of possible effects of natural disasters. In aquatic regions, hazard reduction depends on assessment of geographic and natural factors. Even though risk prevention and resilience are connected they are not similar since the former is a pre-disaster strategy that helps accomplish the latter. Resilience increases the capability of accommodating changes in a community. Modern emergency management has taken a multidimensional approach in reducing vulnerability to risks, eliminating the effects of disasters and recovering from the already occurred events. The study aims at describing natural disasters, specifically floods, and the factors increasing chances of the risk and the Floodplain Management Services program as a mitigation strategy to lessen risks from flood events to communities located within the floodplain.
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Historically, water bodies have been an attraction to people as industrial, commercial and recreational places. These regions also provided access to transport, hydro-electric power and water supply. Additionally, the soil was fertile thus the lands were suitable for agricultural activities. The growth of population implied a continuous expansion pattern along the waterways as the shores became settlement zones as well. Lately, human development has changed the landscape hence affecting the floodplain. Despite people-activities contributing to the reformation of these floodplains, the areas have constantly been shaped by water forces through erosion or accumulated residues. Numerous communities living along these parts are at a risk of experiencing floods and need assistance. Flooding can result to damage of properties and also destruction of structures. Examining the probability of such issues and developing alternative measures in case they happen has been ongoing. In this light, the Floodplain Management Services (FPMS) Program, a community-based effort aimed to mitigate flooding risk was introduced.
History of the FPMS Program
A community needs to develop resilience to be able to reduce and also prevent an occurrence of flooding. In the past, there was increased flooding problems which were associated with environmental factors. Acknowledgement of such tendencies led to a need for more attention in floodplain management and it is at this point that the Floodplain Management Services (FPMS) program was created under Section 206 of the Flood Control Act of 1960 (Schindler et al., 2016). The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is a formation which gained popularity for its active involvement in civil works. The Flood Act allowed the USACE to offer technical services and guide on how to plan towards effective prevention strategies. Over the subsequent years, FPMS held a significant position in national alleviation of damages through recommending better usage of the floodplains. Currently the program covers domestic levels and division offices as well.
Goals and Objectives of the FPMS Program
During the launch of the FPMS program it was discovered that environmental and human factors have largely contributed to the lands been prone to flooding. FPMS mainly functions to lessen risks from flood events to the communities located within the floodplain. It advocates for minimal property exposure to floods by proper land utilization and introduces other flood risk management alternatives. Therefore, this program developed interrelated objectives policy as discussed.
The most important objective is to protect life. FPMS program projected to preserve people’s life by designing and operating a communication structure that alerted the community in case a flood disaster emerges. The system would give notifications and offer instructions to follow in such scenarios (Radulescu et al., 2016). Similarly, emergency response teams were trained and equipped with knowhow on responding to flood hazards. They also familiarized themselves with the evacuation process giving urgency to easily prone areas to save victims. Other regions prioritized are those whose prevention strategies are cost-prohibitive.
Regulating flooding through development of floodwater control projects. This can be achieved by diverting areas of high flows and channeling them towards reservoirs. The program recommended building of dams which could store excessive water from upstream (Schindler et al., 2016). Land can be improved to absorb much rain water to infiltrate the soil instead of letting it flow. Overbank flowing can also be prevented through building floodwalls. In addition to this, raising embankments can also protect water bodies from flowing towards settlement regions. Changes in climate have increased the threat and continuous occurrence of flooding and as a result, the use of flood barriers could be adapted as the long-term solution.
Increase public awareness of flood hazards. FPMS aimed at enlightening the community about chances of exposure to the flood hazards. It sensitizes the public about the need to take caution and reduce the chances of occurrence. Besides, public participation is encouraged, for instance members of a rescue team are recruited from the society and later equipped with relevant skills. Risk mapping is vital in public awareness as well (Radulescu et al., 2016). It provides information to the residents in the flood-prone areas to decide on the necessary flood risk management plans. Where possible, individuals are advised to floodproof new buildings before moving in and also renovate the existing ones to be strong enough in case of floods.
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Preserving natural resources. Mitigation strategies contributes to ecological protection. For instance, when the land is enhanced to absorb more rain water, it reduces the probability of soil erosion. Similarly, water catchment areas add physical attraction to the environment. FPMS program discourages continuous use of pesticides and herbicides (Radulescu et al., 2016). These chemicals are considered a danger to both human and plant life. They emit fumes that if taken in by the plants through transpiration or up through the roots, could cause withering and death of the plant.
Relocation of properties that are noticeably damaged due to constant flooding. USACE and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under the flood control Act, have the power to support FPMS program. FEMA conducted analyses based on “technical flood risk management and developed flood risk management alternatives for various communities” (Brown, 2016). Therefore, does the program not only provide prevention measures but also explains what to do after the occurrence of a flood. In such a case agricultural lands that frequently experience flooding are placed for public use to improve community life (Radulescu et al., 2016). For instance, recreational facilities are established in such regions or they are used for environmental purposes. Compensation for losses caused by floods has been assured by these agencies through buyouts of the victims’ assets.
In general, objectives of the Floodplain Management Services program have been set based on different models. There are those meant to mitigate and avoid occurrence of flood risks. Others reduce the existing hazards by establishing resilience among the populace and the rest help solve the negative consequences caused by floods (Radulescu et al., 2016). Equally, they cover different criteria according to the expected implications. For instance, environmentally they are set to aid in conservation of a healthy ecological status. Economically, they minimize flood risk to economic activities such as transport infrastructure and socially they reduce flood effects to life and health.
FPMS Program Annual Funding
As the FPMS program is expected to grow and expand in its coverage due to increased risks brought by climate change, a timely property acquisition plan has been executed. An essential component of risk reduction is the identification of its funding sources for its projects (Siders, 2018). There are several potential sources of obtaining funds for the program. Communities however are urged to work closely with planning departments, floodplain manager and emergency management county office for supplementary support. Past research studies conducted focusing on hazard reduction grant programs revealed three FEMA’s assistance funding which include hazard mitigation program, project impact and flood mitigation assistance program (Brodmerkel et al., 2020). FPMS was placed under the flood mitigation assistance program.
The national government is the main source of funding towards FPMS. Through FEMA it has engaged the program by contributing funds to run it through buyouts of assets exposed to risk (Siders, 2018). Government decisions on where to acquire such properties have immense effects on social justice as they decrease the existing inequities. Identification of such properties is based on geographical assessment of the areas frequently experiencing floods and strategic execution of the appropriate course of action. Additionally, the grants are distributed as classified:
Hazard Mitigation Grant
It aims at long-term funding of the program to be able to provide measures on hazard reduction. It accounts for 75% of federal share and 25% of non-federal share (Brodmerkel et al., 2020). The key purpose of this grant is to make sure that during the process of renovation following a disaster, the opportunity to put in place mitigation procedures to minimize risk of property damage in possible future calamity is not lost. It is authorized by Section 404 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (FEMA, 2015). Projects covered under this fund include slight changes in physical structures, relocation of assets in more susceptible areas, buildings flood-proofing and also demolition and acquisition of properties more prone to flood hazards.
Pre-Disaster Mitigation Fund
It is a competitive contribution arrangement nationwide which helps in implementing a repeatedly occurring pre-disaster hazard reduction program. According to Brodmerkel et al (2020), it is funded annually and also contains 75% federal share and 25% nonfederal share. The main intention of this fund program was to help territories and local communities in establishing a permanent pre-disaster hazard mitigation program to lessen overall risk to the people and properties from future hazardous happenings (FEMA, 2015). At the same time, it aimed at reducing over-reliance on federal funding in case of unforeseen disasters. Examples of such initiatives may include harvesting rainwater to prevent over running on soil and also having in place protective measures for drainage systems.
Flood Mitigation Assistance
It also is a pre-disaster mitigation policy that is annually funded through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to either reduce or avoid NFIP claims. This plan is authorized by Section 1366 of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968, as amended (NFIA), 42 U.S.C. 4104c (FEMA, 2015). Similarly, the program attracts a 75% federal share; with Severe Repetitive Loss properties accounting for 100% of the share and Repetitive Loss 90% federal share (FEMA, 2015). Under this, it is important to note that only the insured businesses and homes are covered. Projects involved include advancement of NFIP-insured structures, their relocation and demolition.
In addition to the above mitigation grants, FPMS program through FEMA has another post-disaster funding plan namely 406 public assistance grant programs. Its cost share is 75% the federal funding (FEMA, 2015). Its focus is on the repair and replacement of the properties that were damaged by the floods. FEMA has the responsibility to assess the level of damage caused by the floods and approves or disapproves the eligibility before funding. In line with this program a future mitigation measure should not exceed 100% of the project’s repair cost (Brown, 2016). However, if it does, a cost analysis method is recommended.
Apart from FEMA, other federal funds towards FPMS can be obtained from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). However, even though the government funds the FPMS program, eligible local government apply the funds on their behalf. Funds applications are processed through Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) system which enables FPMS to pass the project that requires funding to the respective source within a timeframe of twelve months of flood disaster declaration (FEMA, 2015). Cost effectiveness and feasibility of the project is considered before funds application is approved.
FPMS Relation to Emergency Management at State/local Level
Flood disasters mostly happen at local levels and individuals living in these areas which are prone to risks become among the first to deal with the damages. Unlike other natural hazards, Floods occurrence warning is partially available. On the same note, local governments are in control of recovery efforts and response assets. In this light FPMS as a risk mitigation strategy functions in conjunction with the government to plan for preparedness of the potential risks. Such measures may include enacting the role of a primary emergency provider and starting response contracts with State and Federal departments (FEMA, 2015). Locally, when the FPMS program lacks resources needed for disaster response, it turns to state level for help.
Over time water bodies have been a source of attraction commercially and also for recreation uses. Further, they were used for provision of power and water supply. Recently human development has altered the landscape hence affecting the floodplain. Subsequently, most areas experienced floods constantly that led to damage of properties and loss of lives. Due to the resultant effects, the Floodplain Management Services (FPMS) Program was created under the Flood Control Act to help mitigate flood risks. Objectives of the Floodplain Management Services program are set differently based on what they are meant to achieve. Some mitigate and avoid occurrence of flood risks; others reduce the existing hazards and some resolve the damages caused by floods. Some of the objectives include relocation of damaged properties by constant flooding, preservation of natural resources, Regulation of floods through floodwater control projects and increased public awareness.
Federal funding is the major source of capital for the FPMS program. It achieves this through bodies such as Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE. The funds are categorized as either pre-disaster or post-disaster. These classes are hazard mitigation grant, which accounts for 75% of federal share and 25% of non-federal share. Secondly, Pre-disaster mitigation funds which is funded annually and as well represents 75% federal share and 25% nonfederal share. Thirdly, flood mitigation assistance which is funded through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and finally, 406 public assistance grants, a post-disaster funding plan with a cost share of 75% the federal funding. FPMS acts as an agent for local and state jurisdiction in the case that assistance is needed.
Brodmerkel, A., Carpenter, A., & Morley, K. (2020). Federal financial resources for disaster mitigation and resilience in the U.S. water sector. Utilities Policy, 63, 101015. Web.
Brown, J. T. (2016). Introduction to FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.
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FEMA. (2015). The hazard mitigation assistance grant programs [Ebook]. Web.
Radulescu, D., Ion, M., Dumitrache, R., & Barbu, C. (2016). Flood risk management objectives and Romanian catalogue of potential measures for flood prevention, protection and mitigation. E3S Web of Conferences, 7, 23001. Web.
Schindler, S., O’Neill, F., Biró, M., Damm, C., Gasso, V., & Kanka, R. et al. (2016). Multifunctional floodplain management and biodiversity effects: A knowledge synthesis for six European countries. Biodiversity and Conservation, 25(7), 1349-1382. Web.
Siders, A. (2018). Social justice implications of US managed retreat buyout programs. Climatic Change, 152(2), 239-257. Web.