In 1988, the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act was amended to include a process for providing federal natural disaster assistance to states and communities and established FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. Since then, FEMA has continuously evolved to address both natural and man-made disasters. Throughout the past 30 years, legislative milestones and major storm events have created new approaches and programs to address disaster damages. Through careful long-term planning, a greater use of technology and tools, and more coordination at all levels of government, mitigation is shaping short and long-term practices to build more resilient communities before, during and after disasters. This timeline showcases some defining events and advancements in the history of FEMA’s mitigation assistance.
1988 – Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act
1993 – Hazard Mitigation and Relocation Assistance Act
1994 – National Flood Insurance Reform Act
2000 – Disaster Mitigation Act
2006 – Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act
2012 – Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act
2013 – Sandy Recovery Improvement Act
2014 – Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act
Section 404 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1988 establishes the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program,which helps communities devastated by disaster to build back stronger.1988
Following the Virgin River floods in St. George, Utah at the beginning of the year, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program awards the city funds to purchase shore land to prevent development of the area. By doing so, the city mitigates destruction from any future flooding.
The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program assists in installing a generator and switch gear at the North Charleston, South Carolina sewer district administrative offices to maintain emergency communications during a disaster.
The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds the installation of instruments in Utah that record water and riverfall levels. These instruments also directly transmit information to emergency offices to provide warnings for evacuation in the event of possible flooding.1990
The first saferoom is built in Iowa to protect people during severe weather
The state of California becomes the first recipient of seismic retrofit projects to include structural bracing and improvements.
In its first year, 295 communities joined this new program established in the National Flood Insurance Program. The Community Rating System provides premium discounts to communities that develop extra flood protection by going beyond the minimum floodplain management requirements, recognizing the reduced risk in communities that protect against floods.1991
In the previous year Allagash, Maine fell victim to a flood that caused extensive damage. As a result, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program provides funding to repair and mitigate damaged homes, relocate existing homes to a less flood-prone area, or purchase new homes when it is more feasible than trying to repair and relocate damaged homes.
The State of California replaces the abundant growth of eucalyptus trees and shrubs with more fire-resistant native trees in Chabot Park and neighboring areas.
The Campo Indian Reservation in California receives a grant to fund an erosion project to mitigate flooding.
Washington State and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program partner to perform a slope stabilization and watershed repair in the Hood Canal Ranger District to assist in retention and control of storm runoff.
The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds projects in coastal Massachusetts to protect homes that have been repeatedly damaged by flooding including floodproofing, retrofitting and the first elevation projects.
In December President Clinton signs the Hazard Mitigation and Relocation Assistance Act which increases federal contribution toward acquiring and relocating structures damaged by floods. This is in response to voluntary acquisition being identified as a viable project type following the Great Midwest Flood of 1993.1993
Lifetime Congressional-obligation funding awarded to Hazard Mitigation Assistance exceeds $1 Billion.1996
Project Impact is launched to educate communities on how to mitigate risks caused by natural disasters.1997
Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 is implemented increasing state, local and tribal government mitigation coordination and state mitigation funding.
The Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) Grant Program helps communities reduce risk from future disasters.2000
Lummi Nation becomes the first tribal government to receive approval for a Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Washington State receives approval for an Enhanced State Mitigation Plan by demonstrating its comprehensive mitigation program and capability of managing increased funding.2004
Lifetime Congressional-obligation funding awarded to Hazard Mitigation Assistance exceeds $5 Billion.
The largest project obligation funding to date, totaling $678.3 million is awarded through a pilot Reconstruction Grant program. Funding is used to support mitigation activities for areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma in the following states: Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
The National Institute of Building Sciences Multihazard Mitigation Council determines a 4:1 mitigation Benefit Cost Ratio. On average, every $1 spent on mitigation results in a $4 return of avoided future losses.2005
Total number of properties mitigated through Hazard Mitigation Assistance grants exceeds 100,000.2007
FEMA’s five mitigation programs – Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program, Flood Mitigation Assistance Program, Repetitive Flood Claims Program, and Severe Repetitive Loss Program – are incorporated into one comprehensive guidance document.2009
Lifetime Congressional-obligation funding awarded to Hazard Mitigation Assistance exceeds $10 Billion2010
FEMA completes a Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) to address potential impacts on the human environment from installing and constructing safe rooms. The PEA provides the analysis and structure for future safe room construction projects with similarly, identified scopes to undergo minimum Office of Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation analysis and meet Federal requirements.2011
The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 is passed by Congress extending the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for five years, while requiring significant program reform. The law requires changes to all major components of the program, including flood insurance, flood hazard mapping, grants, and the management of floodplains. Many of the changes are designed to make the NFIP more financially stable, and ensure that flood insurance rates more accurately reflect the real risk of flooding.2012
The Sandy Recovery Improvement Act amends the Stafford Act so that tribes are now equivalent to states in their ability to request an emergency or major disaster declaration from the President.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of North Carolina receives the first Hazard Mitigation Grant Program tribal grant following a major Presidentially-Declared disaster.
Florida becomes the first state to sign and implement a Program Administration by States (PAS) agreement. PAS gives greater authority to states, territories and tribes to administer grants. Since PAS’s conception, six states have successfully implemented it: Florida, Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.2013
The Unified Federal Environmental and Historic Preservation (EHP) Review provides a framework for handling EHP requirements during disaster recovery.
Moore, Oklahoma becomes the first city in the nation to adopt a tornado-specific residential building code. Homes are now required to be built to withstand 135 mile per hour winds.2014
The Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) program is authorized under the amended Stafford Act. Through it, FEMA provides grants for equipment, supplies, and personnel costs, to any state, tribal, or local government for the mitigation, management, and control of any fire that qualifies as a major disaster on public or private forest land or grassland.
Eligible project types include defensible space, structural protection using ignition resistant materials, and limiting hazardous fuels reduction.
FEMA announces three Climate Resilient Mitigation Activities (CRMA): Aquifer Storage and Recovery, Floodplain and Stream Restoration, and Flood Diversion and Storage which encourage nature-based, design mitigation.2015
Insurance & Mitigation Readiness Division (IMRD) is formed to coordinate disaster readiness and operations for the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration.
Hazard Mitigation Assistance releases Benefit-Cost Analysis tools for drought, ecosystem services, and post-wildfire mitigation as guidance for measuring the cost effectiveness of environmental benefits.2016
Hazard Mitigation Assistance works with Salinas, Puerto Rico to mitigate effects on its agriculture, economy, health care and school systems and residential life caused by a drought that began in 2015. The project involves using a canal to reroute overflow water from a nearby reservoir into the city.2017
Hazard Mitigation Assistance reaches $15 Billion in Congressionally-obligated funds.
The National Institute of Building Sciences Multihazard Mitigation Council announces a 6:1 mitigation Benefit Cost Ratio. On average, every $1 spent on mitigation results in a $6 return of avoided future losses.
Total number of properties mitigated through Hazard Mitigation Assistance grants exceeds 138,000.
FEMA anticipates approximately 1,500 Community Rating System participants will help reduce flood damages to insurable properties, encourage a comprehensive approach to floodplain management, and strengthen and support portions of the National Flood Insurance Program2018