It has been nearly two years since hurricane Sandy made landfall on the New Jersey shore and, even now, the area is still working to restore itself. Amid efforts to fix the damage caused by the storm, several government funded measures and programs have been implemented in an effort to mitigate the damage caused by future storms. These programs aim to reduce the cost of future emergencies, both in human terms as well as in terms of dollars and cents.

Chief among these ‘damage mitigation’ programs is the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). Administered by FEMA and authorized under Section 404 of the Stafford Act, the HMGP provides grants to both local and state governments in order to implement long-term hazard mitigation measures after the declaration of a major disaster. The goal of the HMGP is to reduce the loss of life and property caused by natural disasters and to enable mitigation measures to be implemented expediently during the immediate recovery after a disaster. To work toward this goal, there are several HMGP contractors working with clients in the effected regions.

The funds awarded by the HMGP may be used to fund projects completed by HMGP contractors that will reduce losses from future disasters. For example, programs that provide long-term solutions to hazard mitigation, such as elevation of a home to reduce the risk of flood damages, would fall under the blanket of efforts covered by the HMGP. In order to be awarded HMGP funding, a project’s potential savings must be more than the cost of implementing the project and must protect either private or public property that is at risk of incurring repetitive damage. For the Jersey Shore region this program relates most directly to post-disaster building code related activities during the reconstruction process, such as house elevation and/or relocation.

HMGP funding is available (contingent upon a Presidential declaration of disaster) in the areas of the State specifically requested by the Governor. HMGP may also be available statewide as a condition of the State’s ‘special request’. Following a declaration of disaster, the state is required to advertise that HMGP funding is available to fund mitigation projects in the state. Those interested in applying to the HMGP should contact their local government to begin the application process. Those who wish to apply for mitigation projects are encouraged to do so as soon as possible after the disaster so that opportunities to perform disaster mitigation are not lost during reconstruction. The state is responsible for setting a deadline for application submittal and selecting which projects are eligible for inclusion in the program. Those interested in HMGP should contact your State Hazard Mitigation Officer for specific application dates and details and procure the services of a HMGP contractor.

Once selected by the state, eligible projects are forwarded to the FEMA Regional Office for review and to ensure compliance with federal laws and regulations. The time required for review depends on the complexity of the project. Upon successful review, a HMGP contractor may begin working on the the project.

D.E.N.J., one of central Jersey’s leading home builders with over 350 custom homes to their credit, is an authorized Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation (RREM) construction company and HMGP Contractor. If your construction or home elevation project falls under the auspice of the HMGP funding program, turn to D.E.N.J. and rest assured that your ‘disaster mitigation’ project is completed professionally and in full compliance with HMGP guidelines.