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Business and Policy Areas
Business and Policy Areas

Proposed Rule Reduces FEMA Dollars for Facilities Damaged Three or More Times

August 12, 2009

On August 11, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published a proposed rule reducing the amount of federal dollars used to restore facilities damaged repetitively during a 10-year period. If a facility has been damaged by the same type of event, and no restorative measures have been taken, after the third incident FEMA proposes to reduce federal dollars from 75 to 25 percent. 

In developing the proposed regulations FEMA considered the following:

1.  Defining a "facility" - The existing definition states: ''Facility means any publicly or privately owned building, works, system, or equipment, built or manufactured, or an improved and maintained natural feature. Land used for agricultural purposes is not a facility.''

2.  Determining when the requirements will become effective - FEMA would begin the process of counting events for eligible damaged facilities only after it issues an effective rule. FEMA proposes not to begin that process until it issues an effective rule, in order to give applicants ample time to implement appropriate mitigation

3.  Determining what qualifies as "more than one occasion" - Since the Stafford Act states that the reduction in benefits can only occur to a facility ''that has been damaged on more than one occasion.'' A facility that is damaged on ''more than one occasion'' has suffered damage at least twice. Therefore, the benefit reduction would have to occur on or after the third occasion.

4.  Defining "same type of event"- The proposed rule defines ''same type of event'' as one that is the same major disaster type (e.g., hurricane, tornado, flood, or earthquake).

5.  Determining the amount of the cost share reduction - FEMA determined that a ''sliding'' scale would subject FEMA to routine cost share negotiations and appeals whenever a facility met the repetitive loss criteria, and that the development of lengthy criteria to detail exactly how and when the sliding reduction would occur, as well as a resulting complex rule that would be difficult to implement consistently, would place undue administrative burdens on disaster assistance applicants and on FEMA.

FEMA also considered a stepped cost share reduction but concluded that this option would not result in mitigation against future losses as quickly as going directly to a 25 percent reduction immediately upon the third event. Therefore, this proposed rule implements the 25 percent reduction immediately upon the third event.

 6.  Defining an "appropriate mitigation measure" and the process for identifying such mitigation measures -    In the proposed rule FEMA has defined ''appropriate mitigation measures'' using the same definition as ''hazard mitigation'' as: ''any cost effective measure which will reduce the potential for damage to a facility from a disaster event.''

7.  Establishing a system to identify repetitively damaged facilities - FEMA would track the history of the provision of disaster assistance through the use of its National Emergency Management Information System (NEMIS)/Emergency Management Mission Integrated Environment (EMMIE) computer program and database in which all project worksheet's are stored.

 The proposed rule may be found online at by searching for Docket ID FEMA-2008-0006.  FEMA is seeking comments from tribal, state, and local officials, as well as the public, on the proposed regulation on or before October 13, 2009. More information regarding the proposed rule is available in the docket .


Tadu Yimam
Director, Online Learning