How current events impact your business and real estate holdings

Sunday, July 06, 2014


On June 18, 2014, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security that coordinates the response to a disaster that has occurred in the United States, announced a new policy entitled “Eligibility of Flood Risk Reduction Measures under the Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Programs.” This new policy, which applies to Federal, State, tribal, and local authorities involved in the administration of HMA Programs, describes a change in FEMA’s HMA Program guidance concerning the types of physical flood risk reduction projects FEMA may consider for funding under its HMA Programs.

The HMA Program authorities are provided by the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968, as amended, to use assistance made available from the National Flood Mitigation Fund for carrying out and planning activities designed to reduce the risk of flood damage to structures covered under contracts for flood insurance. FEMA’s HMA Programs include the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program (PDM), a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), and the Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) Program. The HMGP and the PDM Programs provide assistance to State, tribal, and local governments for hazard mitigation activities that are cost-effective and substantially reduce the risk of future losses from major disasters. These HMA Programs are one way FEMA supports mitigation against flooding and other disasters.

Prior to this new FEMA policy, the 2013 HMA Unified Guidance stated that only “minor localized flood reduction projects” are eligible for funding under the FMA, PDM, and HMGP. Further, the guidance stated that “major flood control projects” related to the construction, demolition, or repair of dams, levees, dikes, floodwalls, seawalls, breakwaters, groins, jetties, and erosion projects related to the beach nourishment or re-nourishment, are ineligible activities under all programs (emphasis added). However, FEMA has now revised the HMA Program guidance after a review of relevant legislation, regulations, and policy to allow for the construction, demolition, or mitigation of dams, dikes, levees, floodwalls, seawalls, groins, jetties, breakwaters, and erosion projects related to beach nourishment or re-nourishment under the HMGP and PDM Programs.

Under all HMA Programs, approval of an eligible project must not result in a Duplication of Programs (DOP) with other federal agencies. This doctrine of Duplication of Programs prohibits FEMA, or any other federal agency, from using its assistance to fund projects or programs if funding for similar activities is available under a more specific federal authority, unless there is an extraordinary threat to lives, public health or safety, or unimproved real property. The DOP issue is of particular concern in determining eligibility for flood risk reduction projects because other federal agencies may be funding similar flood risk reduction measures under more specific authorities. This new FEMA policy addresses the DOP issue by speaking about how the DOP may affect the eligibility of HMA flood risk reduction projects and how applicants may screen projects for potential duplication prior to application.

HMA Programs are established by Sections 203(PDM) and 404 (HMGP) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C §§5133, 5170c-(b)(2) and by Section 1366 (FMA) of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 (NFIA), as amended by the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, 42 U.S.C §4104c. The HMA Programs are also governed by Title 44 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) Part 9, Part 10, Part 13, Part 59, Part 65, Part 79 (FMA), Part 80, and Part 206, Subpart N (HMGP).

For more information on FEMA’s Eligibility of Flood Risk Reduction Measures under the Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Programs Policy, visit http://www.fema/gov/hazard-mitigation-assistance-policy.