FEMA Streamlines Processes and Helps Build Disaster Resilient Communities

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) commends the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for helping build more disaster resilient communities by streamlining its process for state and local jurisdictions to obtain property mitigation grants.

FEMA has established the use of pre-calculated benefits, which can be substituted for the traditional Benefit/Cost Analysis (BCA) tool in its Wind Retrofit Guide for Residential Buildings, known as P-804. The FEMA standard (P-804) takes a systems-based approach, with three successive levels of protection—Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced—that correspond to the Bronze, Silver, and Gold levels in IBHS’ FORTIFIED Home-Hurricane program.

“The BCA can be very daunting for grant applicants. This action by FEMA has the potential to help transform our nation’s communities by making homes safer, stronger and better able to withstand high winds. Eliminating the requirement for applicants to submit a separate BCA is a true game-changer for jurisdictions seeking assistance to make disaster resilient communities,” said Julie Rochman, president and CEO, IBHS.

In order to bypass the BCA, grant applicants must demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of all projects in an application using FEMA’s pre-calculated benefits. Projects utilizing IBHS’ FORTIFIED Home–Hurricane retrofit construction standards meet this streamlined requirement and will be deemed cost-effective, thereby eliminating the need to conduct and submit a BCA. IBHS’ fact sheet about this change was published in conjunction with the start of Hurricane Season this week, and is available on its website at disastersafety.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/FEMA-Wind-Retrofit-Guide-for-Residential-Buildings-P-804-and-IBHS-FORTIFIED-Home.pdf.

“High winds destroy buildings, devastate lives, and damage the physical and economic infrastructure of communities. Fortunately, research by IBHS, FEMA and other public and private sector experts has identified ways in which such damage can be reduced or prevented. This research led to the development of IBHS’ FORTIFIED standards and FEMA’s P-804 standard,” Rochman noted.

The FORTIFIED Home—Hurricane construction standards are based on 20 years of post-storm research, and are designed to reduce or prevent damage from windstorms, including hurricanes, which are among the most destructive forces of nature, accounting for eight of the ten most expensive disasters in U.S. history (six of these since 2000).

“The only real difference between P-804 and FORTIFIED Home is the independent, third party verification required by FORTIFIED to ensure the standards have been properly implemented. The streamlined cost-effectiveness requirement applies to both FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) grant program, and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).

FEMA has published the Residential Hurricane Wind Retrofits fact sheet on its website at http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/117414. This fact sheet emphasizes the importance of wind retrofit projects for mitigating damage to buildings and contents during high-wind events such as hurricanes while highlighting both FEMA’s technical guidance on wind mitigation of existing residential buildings, and FEMA’s streamlined process for determining the cost effectiveness of P-804 wind mitigation projects, Cost Effectiveness Determination for Residential Hurricane Wind Retrofit Measures Funded by FEMA.

“We look forward to working with FEMA throughout this year’s Hurricane Season to ensure state and local jurisdictions in hurricane-prone locations are aware of this beneficial, expedient change in the cost-effectiveness requirement for FEMA wind retrofit grants,” stated Rochman.

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