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Flood Mitigation Assistance: Additional funding for grant program will help reduce flood risk Posted on November 8, 2022

Hurricane Harvey flooded thousands of homes in Houston in 2017. Photo courtesy of Royce Worrell.

When it comes to flooding in Texas, it is not a matter of if it will happen but when—and preparation is key to mitigating flood risk. With funds appropriated by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, or the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, an additional $600 million is being made available each year over the next five years—up from the approximate $200 million that was available nationwide annually to incentivize investments that reduce risk and increase pre-disaster mitigation. 

Through its Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) grant program the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides funding to communities to implement projects that reduce flood risk, and the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) administers the program in Texas. The 2022 FMA grant application period is open through December 2, 2022. 

This year, FMA grant awards will be funded, in whole or in part, with funds appropriated by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Communities that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) can receive FMA grant funding for projects that reduce or eliminate the long-term risk of flood damage posed to NFIP-insured properties that have flooded repeatedly. 

Each yearly funding cycle, TWDB staff review project applications and provide funding recommendations. Kathy Hopkins, the TWDB’s Grant Coordination Manager, said, “Our agency works closely with interested communities to develop and submit competitive and administratively complete applications to FEMA. The TWDB provides as much technical support as possible.”  

After the TWDB receives and reviews applications from Texas communities, the agency prioritizes the submissions per guidelines provided in FEMA’s Notice of Funding Opportunity. Finally, FEMA reviews the state applications and selects nationwide community projects to fund.  

FEMA annually accepts state applications for FMA grants, and Texas typically receives one-fourth to one-third of the competitive funding available.  

In Texas, the FMA grant program has mitigated more than 5,000 structures from flood damages and prevented additional future losses. In 2021 alone, the TWDB authorized awards for $63.6 million in FMA grants to 13 applicants, including projects in Harris County, the City of Houston, Jefferson County, the City of Jersey Village, Montgomery County, the City of Pearland, and the City of Taylor Lake Village. 

Efforts to reduce or eliminate the risk of repetitive flood damage vary depending on location. In Texas, the FMA grant program has funded the elevation of nearly 200 structures, with the most structural elevations in Galveston County. In Jefferson County, Harris County, Brazoria County, and the cities of El Campo, McAllen, and Corinth, the grants have funded stormwater drainage improvements, channel widening projects, bridge elevations, and the construction of retention and detention ponds. In some areas like Nassau Bay and Pasadena, flood-prone structures have been demolished and transformed into parks for residents.  

Flood Mitigation Assistance funds are also used to develop or update a community’s Hazard Mitigation Plan (a requirement of all communities that receive an FMA grant) or Project Scoping to identify at-risk areas and develop mitigation projects. 

The TWDB expects FEMA to make funding selections for this year’s funding cycle by mid-summer 2023, and awards could begin as soon as October 1, 2023. For more information on FMA grants in Texas and eligible mitigation activities, visit the TWDB's FMA grant program page. 

This article is posted in Flood / Financial Assistance .