Last week, it was announced that two U.S. Department of Homeland Security programs would provide just over $7 million in funding to Rhode Island to help state agencies enhance their emergency preparedness.
Governor Lincoln Chafee and the members of the state’s congressional delegation announced that $7,047,806 would be provided to the state, administered to agencies and organizations by Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency, to help enhance the state’s ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from a variety of emergency situations, including regional or national emergencies, natural disasters or mass-casualty events.
“I applaud the entire congressional delegation for its help in bringing these federal funds to our local emergency responders across the state,” Governor Lincoln D. Chafee said in a statement. “Working together with the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency, these responders protect all Rhode Islanders and ensure that the state’s communication network remains a viable resource before, during and after an emergency.”
In addition to being used to enhance the state’s ability to prepare and respond to such events, funds can be used for enhanced training or the purchase of equipment.
“Significant weather events are unfortunately becoming a more frequent occurrence, due in part to the negative effects of climate change,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “When dealing with natural disasters and other emergency situations, we need to be proactive. These funds will help ensure that our state, municipalities and our first responders are all educated, prepared and armed with the appropriate resources in order to effectively respond to an emergency. The safety of Rhode Islanders depends on it.”
The two grants the state will receive are State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) Funding totaling $3,733,000 and Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG) totaling $3,314,806.
SHSP is a program that supports implementing state homeland security risk-driven strategies that address various needs (planning, equipment, training, etc.) to prevent, protect against, respond and recover from acts of terrorism or other events.
EMPG funds are designed to assist local and state governments improve and maintain their emergency management capabilities. The program is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) to provide direction, coordination, guidance and assistance in the creation of a comprehensive system in the event of any situation.
“This is a critical investment in the safety of our communities. I am pleased to help deliver these federal funds to enhance the emergency response capabilities of RIEMA and our first responders and help them prepare for disasters and hazards. Events like Hurricane Sandy and last year’s Boston Marathon bombing are reminders that disasters can strike at any moment, and so it’s important for our first responders to be prepared and well equipped,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who helped boost funding for the EMPG and SHSP programs in the fiscal year 2014 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill.
Armand Randolph, external affairs officer for RIEMA, explained that the funds would be used for planning initiatives, training initiatives and recovery efforts.
Planning initiatives include RIMEA’s efforts to assist with school safety plans, family assistance plan, the day-to-day operations and staffing at RIMEA and RIMEA’s assistance with large state events such as America’s Cup, Tall Ships in Newport and Bristol’s Fourth of July Parade.
Training initiatives include workshops for emergency responders and other departments throughout the state. The funds used for recovery could assist with any and all recovery operations stemming from technological, man-made or natural disasters.
“Protecting citizens from natural disasters, acts of terrorism and other emergencies is one of the most important functions of our government,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “I’m proud to announce this federal funding, which will help Rhode Island communities better prepare for unexpected emergencies.”
“Rhode Island’s emergency responders work hard to help our state prevent, respond to and recover from emergency situations and natural disasters, and this critical funding will support their important efforts,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “I congratulate the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency on securing these grants and look forward to working with my colleagues to continue to deliver federal funds that enhance Rhode Island’s security and preparedness.”