FEMA’s BRIC Program: A Timely Lifeline
Yesterday, as the East Coast was pummeled by strong winds and numerous tornadoes from Tropical Storm Isaias, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) unveiled the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for its new mitigation program, Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC). Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Tropical Storm Isaias caused millions to lose power – there were nearly 1.4 million power outages in New Jersey alone – and power restoration is anticipated to take several days. The current outages are about half of the more than 2.7 million customers who lost power at the height of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 – the largest outage in the state’s history. Events like this often cause communities nationwide to contemplate the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters and what solutions are available to help us become a more resilient nation; BRIC is one of them.
BRIC’s New Focus
Disasters cause substantial damage and disrupt socioeconomic activities in ways that we cannot fully measure. Additionally, climate variability is causing more frequent and powerful storms that are responsible for unprecedented devastation and costly disaster recovery operations. BRIC aims to categorically shift the current federal focus away from reactive disaster spending towards research-supported, proactive investment in community resilience. BRIC, which replaces FEMA’s legacy Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) program, supports states, local communities, tribes, and territories to become more resilient through capability and capacity building and development of large-scale hazard mitigation projects designed to break the repetitive cycle of damage and loss.
The BRIC program will support community resilience in four tangible ways:
- Provide larger monetary investment in pre-disaster mitigation to reduce future disaster risk. Last year, FEMA’s PDM program allocated $250 million for mitigation and resiliency activities. That level of investment was historic in its own right, as it was the highest level of funding awarded in the history of the legacy PDM program; however, BRIC’s first-year funding doubled that investment, making $500 million available to eligible state, tribal, and territorial applicants.
- Place a greater emphasis on capability and capacity building to promote a culture of preparedness. BRIC sets $600,000 in funding aside – per eligible applicant – to enhance mitigation expertise, knowledge, and practice at the state and local level. Eligible expenditures can include building code activities, partnerships, project scoping, mitigation planning, and planning-related activities. This funding is designed to result in a resource, strategy, or mitigation product that will ultimately reduce or eliminate risk and damage from natural hazards.
- Increase project caps to allow for larger-scale infrastructure projects. BRIC changes the national competition cap for mitigation projects, which increased from $10 million to $50 million per project. This increased project cap allows for larger-scale projects that invest in public infrastructure and harden community lifelines. These projects will undergo additional programmatic review, which will evaluate not only technical merit but qualitative criteria such as the population impacted, outreach activities, future conditions, and resiliency effectiveness.
- Expressed commitment to nature-based solutions that promote sustainability. BRIC encourages communities to explore nature-based solutions that can serve as eligible project types and mitigate hazards such as riverine flooding, urban drainage flooding, coastal flooding and storm surge, landslides, and drought. Unique, nature-based solutions can provide short- and long-term environmental, economic, and social advantages that improve a community’s quality of life and make it more attractive to new residents and businesses. Potential project types include land conservation, greenways, wetland restoration, stormwater parks, floodplain restoration, rain gardens, and more.
FEMA BRIC and Nature-Based Solutions Presentation: Source
In preparation for the application period opening, FEMA will host a series of webinars to further discuss the grant program details, the agency’s funding priorities, common application pitfalls, and the new system for grant submission (FEMA GO). More information on the upcoming webinar dates and times can be found here. Registration information will be available soon.
The BRIC application period opens on September 30, 2020 and closes on January 29, 2021; however, BRIC project applications will take a significant amount of time and resources to complete. We encourage potential applicants and sub-applicants to begin their planning efforts as soon as possible.
Hagerty is here to help. While the cost share for this program is 75 percent federal and 25 percent non-federal, FEMA will provide 100 percent federal funding for management costs associated with the administration of a BRIC-awarded mitigation measure or project. Therefore, our professionals can help at little-to-no additional cost.
Hagerty’s Mitigation Team are experts in navigating the pre- and post-disaster funding world. We are available to talk about your recovery needs, including how to access all funding available through federal grant programs. To learn more, contact us.
Amelia Muccio is the Director of Mitigation at Hagerty Consulting and a subject matter expert in disaster recovery. With over 15 years of experience in public health, disaster preparedness, mitigation, and financial recovery, Amelia has helped clients obtain $5 billion in federal funds after major disasters, including Hurricane Sandy, the California Wildfires, and Hurricane Harvey.
Katie Grasty is the Deputy Director of Mitigation for Hagerty Consulting. Katie has over 10 years of experience with federal grant management with FEMA and the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT). Prior to Hagerty, Katie was the senior program lead for Hazard Mitigation with FEMA Region 9, where she managed over $2 billion in federal funds for flood, fire, and earthquake risk reduction projects.