By Nicole Jones
Nearly $9 million in FEMA funding will go toward raising selected homes throughout Brazoria County, the Texas Division of Emergency Management announced this month.
Raising the elevation of 70 local homes will be the first phase of grant funding for which the county applied two years ago, officials said.
And that first phase is part of a total of $60 million in FEMA funding expected for the county.
“It goes into the system as pods,” Brazoria County Floodplain Administrator Joe Ripple explained to county commissioners during a Dec. 10 update. “This first pod will be 70 houses. as you apply for additional pods, that’s when you get the money. They don’t send it all at once.”
The process is a complex one, he said.
“We have to hire a structural engineer, and then elevation specialist and then elevation contractors and then reconstruction contractors,” he said.
Three quarters of the cost will come from federal funds, requiring a 25 percent match from local funding.
Houses throughout the county will be raised to a minimum of 2 feet above the “base flood elevation,” or the depth of water during a 1 percent chance flood. To participate in the National Flood Insurance Program, a community must adopt that program’s minimum standards into building codes.
For additional protection, Brazoria County adopted elevation standards higher than the base flood elevation. The elevation is also expected to result in lower insurance premiums for owners.
County officials say they will work with homeowners to select qualified contractors to comply with local codes and qualify for the grant.
It’s important for homeowners to remember that different grant programs have different rules that are independent from one another, Ripple explains.
“Sometimes, they conflict,” he said. “It’s our role to work through the conflicts and create opportunities for our citizens.”
The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program provides assistance after a presidentially-declared disaster. The program is designed to help communities, states, federally-recognized tribes and territories with implementing mitigation measures during the recovery process. The goal of the program is to reduce overall risks from future flooding events while reducing reliance on federal funding in future disasters.
The hazard mitigation project is part of FEMA’s program to help Texas recover from Harvey — and also become more resilient.
“If a structure has experienced repetitive loss, even though they didn’t apply for the grant, FEMA still has their name. Until we use that full $60 million, we will continue to contact residents who are on the list,” Ripple said.