The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the agency primarily responsible for disaster management in the US. It was founded in 1978 and came into force a year later, operating under the Department of Homeland Security (United States, 2002). FEMA's objectives span from preparedness to mitigation. The nature of some of the programs it undertakes may involve collaboration with other agencies and departments, as illustrated below. Other departments, such as the Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, and Department of Defense also have their programs as well. This paper is an analysis of some federal preparedness and mitigation programs.
Federal Preparedness Programs
The Learn and Serve America Initiative Community-Based Service-Learning Program operates under the Corporation for National and Community Service. It provides grants and other forms of funding for organizations that enhance the simultaneous development of student and community projects. These projects focus on service-learning in areas such as education, environment, and public safety (United States, 2011). The teaching, therefore, involves training on these factors, which are beneficial to a disaster-related event. The Emergency Conservation Program runs under the Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency and enhances the preparedness of farmers in the face of issues that are most pertinent to them, such as wind erosion, flooding, tornadoes, fires, among other disasters (United States, 2011). They aim to equip farmers with the skills to conserve water for use during drier seasons. Furthermore, ECP helps them to maximize water usage in drought.
The Applied Meteorological Research program under the Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration offers financial support to universities for research into meteorological activities. The underlying objective is to provide practical solutions to the challenge when it arises. The Program collaborates with the Remote Community Alert Systems Program, which alerts people living in far-flung regions without access to mobile services about emergency events (United States, 2011). These people learn about what they should do through outdoor boards and banners. The Economic Adjustment Assistance program, operating under the Department of Commerce and Economic Development Administration, tackles the challenges arising out of economic fluctuations (United States, 2011). The program gives grants to such communities to enable them to mitigate these problems that may at times result from a change in laws, severe reduction of natural resources, or reorganization of corporate and business structures. With the funding, the communities can regrow their private sector, enabling them to wade through these periods more comfortably.
The National Weather Service Eastern Region Automated Flood Warning Systems program facilitates communities' abilities to respond to floods and flash floods through adequate financing. They make this possible by enhancing the use of Automated Flood Warning Systems. The Building and Fire Research Laboratory (BFRL), National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Administration (NEHRP), through the Computer-Based Clearinghouse for Retrieving NEHRP-Funded Earthquake Research supports the harmonization of data between FEMA, United States Geological Survey (USGS), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) (United States, 2011). The program focuses on building knowledge capacity about earthquakes, with particular attention to buildings. The BFRL Project Assessment of First Generation Performance-Based Seismic Design Methods for New Buildings program assesses earthquake analysis designs by the America Society of Civil Engineers with the aim of enhancing the suitability of such buildings in the face of seismic disasters. Their investigations focus on steel and concrete bolstering in such structures. The National Tsunami Preparedness and Response Program under the Department of Commerce enables communities to be equipped to tackle challenges associated with tsunamis. It focuses on promoting awareness, training, and forecasting.
The Remote Sensing for Coastal Management program collaborates with other NOAA organizations to enhance the acquisition of information on coastal resources. The program oversees sensors situated at sea and in the air to spot and fires and trace their routes to improve response. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio All Hazards program is a conglomeration of radio networks that transmit information on the weather all day long. It makes access to information about any imminent weather-related hazards possible (United States, 2002). The radio stations work in partnership with emergency managers from all government sectors to air forewarnings and news during the mitigation process. They also offer guidelines to affected people on how to enhance their safety. Their scope ranges from natural disasters such as earthquakes to human-made ones like oil spills.
The Flood Plain Management Services, working under the Department of Defense (DoD), encourages the detection of flood-related hazards. They provide data on disasters that may arise out of water and land use (United States, 2002). The Vigilant Guard program under the DoD acquires funding from the Department of Homeland Security and organizes exercises for purposes of disaster and emergency preparedness. Participants in the study learn to work collaboratively among themselves and with emergency response organizations (United States, 2011). Part of the training process is feedback from both the assessors and fellow trainees. The Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Technical Assistance Grants Program offers funds to various agencies in the specific interest of the Tribes with the principal objectives being to promote awareness on chemical hazard prevention (United States, 2011). The International Financial Assistance Projects works for the same group, although the scope of its focus is relatively broader. It works to limit contact with dangerous chemicals, increase the freshness of the air, conserve the environment by restricting greenhouse gas emissions, and bring clean water close to Native Americans.
The Water Protection Grants to the States, as the name suggests, offers grants to enable the US and its territories have the necessary structures in regards to water management. Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness Grant Program accesses funds from freighting companies, which helps in their role of putting in place measures to curb exposure to harmful substances (United States, 2002). Hazmat training and planning forms part of their strategy. The State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training under the Department of Justice offers a variety of services and human resource in the areas of terrorism, law, and justice (United States, 2011). The National Fire Plan-Wildland Urban Interface Community Fire Assistance program carries out the National Fire Plan, which aids communities vulnerable to fire outbreaks to develop capacities in fire management.
The Radiological/Nuclear Detection Pilot Evaluations Program focuses on risks that are likely to arise from unplanned leaks of nuclear material (United States, 2002). The Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program supports rescue processes in the post-event phase by providing food and shelter to the most affected people. They also finance similar, more localized programs. The Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grant Program has broad responsibilities, which involve the wide-scale preparedness for disasters of all kinds. In this respect, they create strategies and guidelines for mitigating catastrophes. The Public Health Emergency Preparedness encourages the readiness of such emergencies as flu pandemics at federal and state level. They work with the private sector and nonprofits to increase their reach.
Disaster Mitigation Programs
These are programs primarily involved in the management of disasters when they occur. Unlike the prevention programs that are spread across a wide range of state agencies and organizations, the mitigation programs are principally under the FEMA, having come about through legislation and subsequent ratification of the relevant laws.
The Public Assistance Program falls under Section 406 of the Constitution and makes it possible to make finances available to the public as well as public and private facilities to enable them to recover (United States, 2002). In regards to facilities, they analyze each project to determine its suitability for the awarding of such funds. The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) provides grants to various communicates and states to help them tackle the after-effects of disasters. They also give donations to crucial organizations working for the long-term solutions to such problems. FEMA oversees their activities to ensure they are in line with their mandate.
The Pre-Disaster Mitigation also funds states and specific communities to create strategies and projects for mitigating disasters. Unlike the HMGP, which assess each case, the PDM is competitive, at the end of which a few people or organizations have qualified for the finances. States, native tribes, and entire local authorities are eligible for financing, with PNP's with a recommendation from entitled groups (United States, 2008). The program has worked since its establishment to prevent the escalation of impacts from various disasters that may develop in artificial structures. Naturally, therefore, they have helped police stations, schools, hospitals, and other types of infrastructure in that respect. Help, in this sense, refers to thickening the walls, replacing shutters with reinforced ones, and raising building structures to a higher ground level. FEMA reviews their guidelines on an annual basis and implements them through PDM in the ways above.
The Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) program gets funds from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and targets buildings that have insured with the NFIP (United States & United States, 2008). The funds are available every year. As is the case with the PA program, each state has its FMA program, which it runs independently. FMA pays three-quarters of the total amount to cater for the cost of the projects they are financing (United States, 2008). Some of the activities that the FMA can undertake are the raising of the ground level of buildings, destruction, and transfer of affected people to a safer location. They also work to ensure constructions are in line with the essential NFIP prerequisites. If the amount of money required to guarantee a particular structure complies with the NFIP requirements may raise the total cost of mitigation, it may qualify for additional funding from the FMA.
The Public Assistance program has a broad mandate, which involves removing clutter from wrecked buildings and nature, renovating such buildings. State and local governments, in addition to Native American communities, are potential beneficiaries of the PA program. Private non-profit organizations are also eligible to apply, mainly if their projects revolve around emergency response, education, medical services, and elderly care (United States, 2008). FEMA, in conjunction with some state agencies, determine which regions qualify for the financial boost, after which they must make such a request in writing. When they decide who deserves the assistance, they conduct a thorough briefing where they discuss various aspects of the disaster and formulate a plan to tackle it (United States, 2002). They then form a team which shortlists the said structures along with their approximate reconstruction quotations. Water facilities, public buildings, roads and bridges, and par...
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