RICHMOND – In Virginia, localities depend upon federal grants to fund operations for emergency preparedness and response efforts when a disaster or emergency situation occurs. When a major disaster strikes, localities may have to spend millions responding to an incident that was not budgeted. During these events, local governments depend on state and federal assistance to ensure financial solvency in order to rebuild their communities.
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) managed more than $84 million in federal disaster payments and competitive grant awards to help state agencies, localities and other entities to fund emergency preparedness training and programs, and to reimburse agencies for their emergency responses during FY17.
“Recovering from and rebuilding after a disaster can take years for many communities and can be especially challenging for smaller localities with limited funds,” said Governor McAuliffe. “VDEM’s commitment to expediting disaster payments ensures that critical funds are returned to our most vulnerable communities more quickly than ever before to ease the financial burden and accelerate the recovery process.”
VDEM is tasked with managing millions in federal grant funds on behalf of localities and state agencies. The agency recently completed a reorganization of the agency, which included extensive changes to the grants management process and innovative, streamlined approaches to its handling of federal funding. During the reorganization, the agency implemented a regional approach to working with localities and non-profit organizations, established closer partnerships with the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) and improved overall management practices. These changes have enabled the agency to expedite grant payments to localities and ensure that all competitive grants are managed and awarded through a stakeholder-driven process.
“In the past, it has taken up to several years to manage the grants process from start to finish, leaving localities, state agencies, and eligible private non-profit organizations in a difficult position financially,” said Jeff Stern, State Coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. “Over the past several years, VDEM has expedited the process and with Winter Storm Jonas and Hurricane Matthew, we began reimbursements to localities within 12 months for the first time, allowing them to balance their budgets and remain whole.”
Of the grants and disaster distributions, VDEM distributed $74 million in disaster payments and $10 million in competitive grants through a stakeholder-driven process. Localities received more than $51 million of the total funds, state agencies received $32 million and $600,000 was awarded through individual assistance programs.
“I am proud of the hard work and VDEM has completed in order to ensure this vital function of state government is successfully carried out as quickly as possible,” said Brian Moran, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security. “These funds will not only be used to recover from past disasters and to increase resiliency for future events, but will also fund important homeland security projects to improve public safety across the Commonwealth.”
Old Dominion University’s Virginia Modeling and Simulation Center manages the peer-review process for competitive grants and scores proposals based on benefit-cost ratios, a process requested and overseen by Virginia’s public safety stakeholders. The center is finalizing the peer-review process for the 2017 competitive grant cycle and will be announcing awards in the coming months. Beginning in 2014, awards have funded a diverse group of programs, including community outreach and preparedness programs, interoperability efforts, railroad safety initiatives, sheltering programs, active shooter exercises, and a number of other initiatives that will enhance public safety.
Be ready. Be willing to help.
Virginia Disaster Relief Fund
How is the money distributed?
Fund proceeds will be distributed to local long-term recovery groups, members of the Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and other non-profit and faith-based organizations as a grant.
Many of these groups work directly with individuals and families following a disaster.
How else can I donate?
The Virginia Disaster Relief Fund benefits projects that include: repair or rebuilding of underinsured dwellings, transportation assistance, replacing essential household items, helping renters establish new rental residence, temporary living expenses while recovering from loss, and more.
How can I donate?
If you want to help, send checks made payable to the Treasurer of Virginia with “Virginia Disaster Relief Fund” noted in the memo line to:
P.O. Box 1971
Richmond, VA 23218-1971