Project Impact: Building a Disaster Resistant Community
In the past 10 years, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has spent $25 billion to help people repair and rebuild their communities after natural disasters. And that is not the total cost. Insurance companies spent additional billions in claims payments; businesses lost revenues; employees lost jobs; other government agencies spent millions more. Worst of all, however, is the loss that can never be recovered: human life.
The increasing number and severity of natural disasters over the past decade demands that action be taken to reduce the threat that hurricanes, tornadoes, severe storms, floods and fires impose upon the nation^s economy and the safety of its citizens. With Project Impact-Building Disaster Resistant Communities, FEMA is changing the way America deals with disasters. Project Impact helps communities protect themselves from the devastating effects of natural disasters by taking actions that dramatically reduce disruption and loss.
It worked for the Anheuser Busch brewery in earthquake-prone Northern California. In the early 1980s, the company invested $15 million to protect its facilities from a quake. The retrofitting was put to a severe test in 1994 when a quake whose epicenter was only 12 miles from the brewery rumbled through the area. Anheuser Busch estimates it saved $300 million in damages and lost production: Operations never stopped, and repair costs were minimal.
This nationwide initiative, Project Impact, operates on this common-sense damage-reduction approach, basing its work and planning on three simple principles: preventive actions must be decided at the local level; private sector participation is vital; and long-term efforts and investments in prevention measures are essential. FEMA partnered with seven pilot communities across the country and was encouraged by the benefits seen and the determined commitment that flourished at the local level. This has been a unique experiment: FEMA has offered expertise and technical assistance from the national and regional level and included other federal agencies and states in the equation. FEMA has used all the available mechanisms to get the latest technology and mitigation practices into the hands of the local communities. Now, FEMA has 120 Project Impact communities, as well as over 1,000 businesses that have joined on as Project Impact partners.
There is no doubt that Project Impact is a common sense approach for the way America deals with disasters. The incentive is clear: a disaster resistant community is able to bounce back from a natural disaster with far less loss of property and consequently much less cost for repairs. Moreover, the time lost from productive activity is minimized for both businesses and their employees. Indeed, FEMA estimates that for every dollar spent in damage prevention, two are saved in repairs.
For more information about how to be a Project Impact community, please call 1-202-646-4600 or for publications call 1-800-227-4731 or visit http://www.fema.gov on the World Wide Web.