The Oklahoma Disaster Mitigation and Recovery Matching Fund was created to help counties and municipalities impacted by natural disasters and has recently gone into effect. The fund, developed by Rep. Lonnie Sims, R-Jenks in House Bill 3819, is designed to help appropriate $5 million to aid counties and communities impacted by natural disasters or at risk for future loss in their application for recovery and mitigation project financing. The new fund is an opportunity to match federal grant programs like those from FEMA and others.
- The law is intentionally structured off existing Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP) grants which are trusted funding opportunities for locals, and one of the most utilized in rural Oklahoma.
- The fund is a continuing fund not subject to fiscal year limitations.
- $5M in the initial year, will be administered by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce to the state’s eleven Council of Governments (COGs).
- The act establishes separate accounts for nine of the eleven COGs. One account will be divided equally into two subaccounts. Based on the language in the legislation, all COGs in Oklahoma will receive $500,000 except for the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG) and the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG). They will split an account and receive $250,000 each for distribution to any city or town within the respective jurisdiction of the entity or for the benefit of an unincorporated area
- The governing board of the COGs must develop a plan for the use of available funds for providing matching amounts.
What Counties and Municipalities Can Gain
This law helps become a local match to federal programs for the prevention of damage or to repair damages caused by a qualifying hazard within areas included within its respective jurisdiction. For example, on July 21, 2022, President Biden announced executive actions including making $2.3 billion in FEMA funding available for its Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program for FY2022. Funds from the Act can be used to match funding from BRIC. They can also be used to match grants from all federal programs that touch disaster recovery, mitigation, and resilience from FEMA and many other federal agencies. This means much wider access to project funds than previously possible.
Municipalities should contact their local COG and reach out to their Departments of Commerce to learn more about what they are planning.
How Freese and Nichols Can Help
This new funding mechanism is another tool in your mitigation and resilience toolbox. Some challenges to work through may include understanding the varying FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance programs (Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC), and Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA); various cost shares involved or developing required hazard mitigation plans. Freese and Nichols has decades of experience developing engineered solutions to the most complex technical challenges and securing Federal funding to overcome them.