Disaster Plans Adoption Deadline Looms

Disaster Plans Adoption
Deadline Must for FEMA Benefits

The 66 cities and counties along the Texas –Mexico border must adopt a regional hazard mitigation plan before Dec. 15, 2008 or run the risk of not being eligible for FEMA disaster prevention grants… and starting the planning, review and adoption process for consideration all over again.

It’s a dire scenario that doesn’t fit well with the holiday schedule, but “Cover the Border Hazard Mitigation Plan” authors say it’s necessary to prevent blues that could extend well beyond the holidays.

“Basically, the governing body of each participating city and county must adopt the regional hazard mitigation plan that was submitted on their behalf, reviewed and approved by the State and Federal government and is now known as the ‘Cover the Border Plan,’ ” said Tyrus Fain of the Rio Grande Institute.

The Institute, along with Texas A&M International University (TAMIU), led a two-year study effort that spanned from the Gulf Coast to the Pecos.

The Cover the Border Plan encompassed an unprecedented effort by local governments to assess their vulnerabilities and set priorities for mitigating the risks they might face in the event of a disaster.

Those who do not provide the needed evidence of adoption can effectively be excluded from FEMA. The city or county’s final resolution that adopts the plan needs to be e-mailed to TAMIU’s Dr. Kenneth J. Tobin at ktobin@tamiu.edu or 956.326.2417.

A dire letter from the Texas Governor’s Office underscores the seriousness of the Plan. It notes that the Governor’s Disaster Mitigation Office has received over $200 million in grant requests for post-Dolly disaster prevention projects. Only those with grant requests pending that have adopted the Cove the Border Plan will be eligible to receive assistance.

Fain said while it is remarkable that both Federal and State officials have OK’d the effort, the group’s primary concern is that timing of the adoption is subject to two major holidays: Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“What concerns us all is the short time each of the cities and counties have for formal adoption of the plan as it pertains to their jurisdiction. I hope no one will let this fall between the cracks because of all the distractions they face at this time of the year,” Fain noted.

For additional information, contact Fain at The Rio Grande Institute, 512.632.0644 or www.riogrande.org

The entire Cover the Border Hazard Mitigation Plan is available online at www.covertheborder.net

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu