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Recovering from disasters, lessons for irrigation districts




Roche, W. Martin, author
U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, publisher

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Irrigation districts and other water supply agencies frequently experience damage from natural disasters, including floods, fires, earthquakes, and hurricanes. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides grants to make repairs to damaged facilities and to cover other disaster-related expenses through its Public Assistance Program. Federal grants can cover 75% or more of the costs of repairs and other expenses, and many states provide additional grants so that the local agency only has to pay a small portion of the recovery costs. While performing repairs and other emergency work, it is important that the local agency keep accurate and detailed records of costs, and follow reasonable practices in hiring contractors. FEMA can also provide grant funding for system improvements to prevent or minimize future disaster damage; however it is important that improvements are not made prior to FEMA approval and environmental compliance. During the past 15 years, the author has had several assignments as a FEMA Disaster Assistance Employee (DAE) and a Technical Assistance Contractor (TAC) employee. The paper will cover several of the author's experiences documenting damage and writing reports to justify FEMA grants for water districts and other local agencies. The paper will also discuss how FEMA obtains staffing for disaster recovery, and the resulting opportunities for engineers and other water experts for part-time work.


Presented at Irrigation district sustainability - strategies to meet the challenges: USCID irrigation district specialty conference held on June 3-6, 2009 in Reno, Nevada.

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