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The Alabama Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have approved almost half a million dollars in grants for rebuilding projects that help disaster-affected areas reduce future loss of life and property.
The state administers the grants, totaling more than $491,000, which are funded through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. The first four grants to be funded include two in DeKalb County, one in Marshall County and one in Bibb County.
In DeKalb County, grants will fund four individual safe rooms and a fixed generator for the city of Fort Payne. The Marshall County grant will fund a generator for the Northeastern Alabama Water System in Langston. The Bibb County grant will fund a community safe room in the Eoline community near Centreville.
“These grants will help several communities in their recovery,” said Art Faulkner, director of AEMA.
“This may be the most rapid turnaround for HMGP funding in FEMA’s history,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Michael Byrne of FEMA in a written statement from the agency. “The process went quickly because AEMA and FEMA established such a strong partnership early in the process and the state of Alabama was so proactive in planning.”
FEMA also approved up-front funding for management costs, allowing the state to hire and train grant reviewers earlier in the process. Then, as grant applications came in from communities throughout the state, reviewers were already in place to handle them.
“Alabama EMA is committed to building Alabama safer and better, and seeing these grants awarded so rapidly shows FEMA’s vested interest in Alabama’s future,” Faulkner said.
One of the first four approved grants funds individual safe rooms in the DeKalb County communities of Crossville, Mentone, Henagar and Boaz. The federal share of the total estimated cost for the four safe rooms is $17,259.
The second grant provides $176,093 towards the cost of an emergency power generator for the City of Fort Payne at the Lookout Mountain pump station.
The third grant of $158,970 helps fund an emergency power generator for the Northeast Alabama Water Authority. The generator will be installed at the Langston pump station in Marshall County.
The Eoline community in Bibb County is receiving a grant of $139,070 for the federal share of a community safe room project. The safe room will be installed on Highway 82 at the site of the Eoline Volunteer Fire Department.
The four grants cover 75 percent of the total estimated cost for the projects.
Many local communities have submitted grant applications for safe room funding. Since the April tornadoes, Alabamians have become especially interested in building both individual and community safe rooms.
iThese officials may include local government representatives, emergency managers, mayors or building code/enforcement officers. Based on the amount of local interest, these officials may decide to apply for FEMA grants to fund safe rooms.
Local officials must submit these grant applications to the state. The state reviews the applications for completeness before submitting them to FEMA for eligibility determination, final approval and funding. FEMA sends the funds to the state, which uses the money to reimburse local communities for part of their safe room building costs.
Not all Alabama communities plan to submit applications for FEMA grant money. Those who want to find out more about plans for safe rooms in their communities should contact their local government or EMA offices. The state’s deadline to receive applications from the counties is Sept. 1. However, each county has its own individual deadline for citizens to submit grant applications.