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Federal Program Provides Funds to Buy Flood-Damaged Properties

More than two years ago, historic-level floods ravaged Rhode Island, leaving many homes and businesses with significant damage. Following the historic floods, Rhode Island received a Presidential Disaster Declaration which made the State eligible for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding under the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grant Programs. The funds available from the HMGP program have allowed the first-ever structural acquisition projects to be approved and awarded in Rhode Island to the towns of Cumberland and West Warwick. Structural acquisition is one type of mitigation project that is eligible for support from the HMGP. (Other types of eligible projects can include elevations, relocations, or small stormwater management initiatives.)

"These projects are a perfect example of what we can accomplish through collaboration," said Governor Lincoln D. Chafee. "All levels of government have come together to assist members of the communities of Cumberland and West Warwick. The floods of 2010 taught us valuable lessons, and initiatives such as this will help ensure that we will not be caught unprepared in the future."

"This process has truly been a collaboration among local, state, and federal officials," said RIEMA Executive Director Theresa C. Murray. "We applaud the owners and the towns of Cumberland and West Warwick for realizing that repeatedly subjecting the properties to flood damage does not benefit anyone."

Funding for these projects is a combination of federal and local contributions. The residential property in Cumberland is being purchased for $296,210. Of that total, $222,158 is from the HMGP and $74,052 is from the town. The commercial property in West Warwick is being purchased for $254,610. Of that total, $190,958 is from the HMGP and $63,652 is from the town. Once these properties are acquired, there can be no future building on the land and it will then be classified as natural floodplain.

The acquisition of this home and business are also in alignment with the goals of RIEMA's Floodplain Management Program. "One of the objectives of the Floodplain Management Program is to promote compliant construction and mitigate future damages in designated floodplains," said RIEMA State Floodplain Coordinator Michelle Burnett. "Acquisitions are a great first step in enhancing a community's resilience to future flooding."

"This grant award enables West Warwick to assist a local business that was devastated by the 2010 floods," said West Warwick Town Planner Frederick J. Presley, AICP. "It is a great example of how local, state and federal government can work together to help our constituents in their time of need. This grant will also help us to create more flood storage capacity that will benefit other property owners in the area."

"The Town of Cumberland is pleased to accept this grant on behalf of the residents of Wildwood Street and acknowledges the efforts of both the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the RIEMA in addressing this situation," said Cumberland Mayor Daniel J. McKee. "These residents have experienced multiple losses due to flooding in the last 10 years. This property will now be converted from residential to open space and become part of the flood plain of the Blackstone River. The town is extremely grateful for this resolution and plans to continue working together with FEMA and RIEMA to address other serious ongoing flooding issues within the town."

For more information on the HMGP or other FEMA mitigation grants, visit


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