[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that Winnebago County has been awarded a $1,084,525 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for flood protection efforts.
“This project will protect the health, safety and welfare of Winnebago county residents,” said Durbin. “By supporting flood control efforts, this federal funding will help reduce costs to the local government for emergency rescue, infrastructure repair, debris removal and emergency shelters. During a time when local communities are facing major budget shortfalls, this federal investment will make an important difference.”
The proposed project will involve the voluntary acquisition of land that will be returned to green space, allowing flooding to occur without damage to property. It will reduce future flood insurance claims and the financial obligation of federal, state and local governments after a disaster. The Winnebago County Blackhawk Island Acquisition Project is looking to enter into negotiations with up to 90 properties and owners that have experienced heavy flood damage due to their proximity to the Rock River floodway.
Today’s grant was awarded through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) which provides grants to States and local governments to implement long-term hazard mitigation measures after a major disaster declaration. The purpose of the HMGP is to reduce the loss of life and property due to natural disasters and to enable mitigation measures to be implemented during the immediate recovery from a disaster.
Buying flood-prone property is one of many approaches to mitigating natural flood hazards. Unlike other hazard mitigation techniques, such as elevating homes (e.g., on pilings) above flood levels or building a dike, however, voluntary purchase projects permanently reduce a community’s vulnerability to flooding by moving people out of harm’s way. Property purchased through this program is often used to create public open space such as parks, wildlife refuges, and ball fields.