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Flood Mitigation Assistance

For more information on the National Flood Insurance Program, please follow this link, National Flood Insurance Program.

The Flood Mitigation Assistance Program (FMA) was created as part of the National Flood Insurance Reform Act (NFIRA) of 1994 (42 U.S.C. 4101) with the goal of reducing or eliminating claims under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Although the NFIRA created FMA, the regulations governing this program are found in 44 CFR Part 78. The Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance for FMA is 97.029. The overall goal of FMA is to fund cost-effective measures that reduce or eliminate the long-term risk of flood damage to buildings, manufactured homes, and other National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)-insurable structures.

The program's objectives are to:

Reduce the number of repetitively or substantially damaged structures and the associated claims on the National Flood Insurance Fund.
Encourage long-term, comprehensive mitigation planning.
Respond to the needs of communities participating in the NFIP to expand their mitigation activities beyond floodplain development review and permitting.
Complement other Federal and State mitigation programs with similar, long-term mitigation goals.

FMA provides grants to communities for projects that reduce the risk of flood damage to structures that have flood insurance coverage. This funding is available for mitigation planning and implementation of mitigation measures only. The State of Tennessee, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), is the administrator of the FMA program and is responsible for selecting projects for funding from the applicants submitted by all communities within Tennessee. TEMA then forwards selected applications to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for an eligibility determination. Individuals cannot apply directly for FMA funds; however, their local government may submit an application on their behalf.

Applicant Eligibility
Eligible applicants for FMA planning grants include:

Communities participating in the NFIP, excluding those on probation. Suspended communities and those which have withdrawn are not eligible.

The rationale for focusing on NFIP communities is fourfold:

1. The Flood Protection Act of 1972 prohibits Federal agencies from expending funds for acquisition or construction of buildings in the flood hazard areas of communities that do not participate.
2. A major goal of FMA is to reduce claims on the National Flood Insurance Fund. FMA will reduce national flood insurance claims only if FMA funds mitigation measures that reduce or eliminate the long-term risk of flood damage to buildings, manufactured homes, and other NFIP-insurable structures.
3. Providing FMA grants to participating communities encourages participation and consistency among programs.
4. FMA funding comes from the National Flood Insurance Fund, which is made up of insurance premiums paid by NFIP policyholders. A grant program that is funded by national flood insurance policyholders should benefit communities that participate in the NFIP.

FEMA contributes up to 75% of the cost of eligible activities. The remaining 25% must be met by non-Federal sources. Up to one-half of the non-Federal share (121/2 percent of the overall project cost) may be met by in-kind contributions from third parties. The remaining half must be met by State and/or local government expenditures and cash funds identified at the time of application.

Non-federal cash funds may include: State or local government expenditures; salary paid to staff to carry out the approved mitigation activities of the recipient (including project managers, attorneys, appraisers, planners, engineers, public works crews, etc.); State or local cash funds provided to contractors and consultants to carry out approved mitigation activities; State or local cash funds provided to individuals to carry out approved mitigation activities; and cash funds provided by any non-Federal source.

FMA Projects
The Flood Mitigation Assistance Program provides three types of grants to states and communities. These are planning grants, project grants, and technical assistance grants. The State of Tennessee folds the Technical Assistance into the Project Grants to provide more funds to communities. Therefore, the following will explain only the Planning and Project Grants.

Planning Grants
Planning grants assist communities in developing Flood Mitigation Plans. Under Section 1366 of the National Flood Insurance Reform Act (NFIRA), a FEMA-approved Flood Mitigation Plan is required in order for a State or community to receive an FMA project grant. The purpose of FMA planning grants is to assist States and communities in developing and updating Flood Mitigation Plans. Examples of eligible activities for planning grants include conducting local planning discussions; contracting for consulting technical services such as engineering and planning; surveying structures at risk; and assessing repetitive losses. FMA planning grant funds should not be used to pay for salaries and expenses for the FMA point-of-contact.

Project Grants
Project grants fund eligible flood mitigation projects. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency encourages communities to prioritize the mitigation activities outlined in their Flood Mitigation Plan and fund projects that will greatly reduce or eliminate the risk of flood damage to buildings, manufactured homes, and other NFIP-insurable structures. Mitigation of repetitively or substantially damaged structures is a high priority.

Eligible activities are activities that are consistent with the goal of FMA: to reduce the risk of flood damage to structures insurable under the NFIP. Examples of eligible types of projects include:

Acquisition of NFIP-insured structures and underlying real property.
Demolition of NFIP-insured structures on acquired or restricted real property.
Minor physical flood mitigation projects that do not duplicate the flood-prevention activities of other Federal agencies and that lessen the frequency or severity of flooding and decrease predicted flood damages in localized flood problem areas. These include modification of existing culverts and bridges, installation or modification of floodgates, stabilization of streambanks, and creation of small debris or flood/stormwater retention basins in small watersheds. Construction or improvement of major structural flood-control structures such as dikes, levees, dams, seawalls, groins, and jetties, and projects consisting of channel widening or stream alignment are not eligible, as indicated in Section 1366.
Other activities that bring an NFIP-insured structure into compliance with the statutorily authorized floodplain management requirements of 44 CFR Part 60.3.
Relocation of NFIP-insured structures from acquired or restricted real property to sites not prone to flood hazards.
Elevation of NFIP-insured residential structures, and elevation or dry floodproofing of NFIP-insured non-residential structures, in accordance with 44 CFR Part 60.3.
Beach nourishment activities. For the purposes of this program, the only activities eligible are measures to facilitate natural dune replenishment through the planting of native dune vegetation and/or the installation of sand-fencing. The placement of sand on beaches is not eligible.

Project Eligibility
1. Planning Requirements
Eligible communities may apply for an FMA planning grant. The NFIRA stipulates that to be eligible to receive an FMA project grant, a community must have a FEMA-approved mitigation plan. FEMA can assist communities in their mitigation plan development, and by approving plans in a timely fashion. FEMA recommends a basic flood mitigation planning process consisting of the following activities:

Public involvement
Coordination with other agencies or organizations
Flood hazard area inventory
Problem identification
Review of possible mitigation actions
State or local adoption following a public hearing

A Flood Mitigation Plan should explain how the public was involved in the process (item a. above), summarize the outcomes of activities b. through f., and list the actions to be taken to implement the plan. Communities can apply for planning grants to update their Flood Mitigation Plan. For communities who already have an existing plan, FEMA encourages those communities to update their Flood Mitigation Plans as needed. Grants awarded for updating existing plans include previously mentioned criteria, but would also need to reflect:

Changes in the characteristics of the floodway or floodplain brought about by a flood or other disaster.
Changes in population, land use, or development.
Changes in community goals or priorities.
Unanticipated changes in the floodway or floodplain due to development in the area.
Advances in flood-mitigation knowledge, strategies, or technologies.

The planning process outlined for the NFIP Community Rating System (CRS) program is a good model. The NFIP?s CRS is a FEMA program in which communities receive credits toward discounted flood insurance premiums for a number of floodplain management activities. It provides credit for preparing, adopting, implementing, evaluating, and updating a comprehensive floodplain management plan according to a standard planning process. The handbook NFIP/CRS Sample Plans, released in FY96, is an excellent guidebook for developing local flood mitigation plans and can be accessed through FEMA?s website at It is not the goal of FMA to impose an additional planning requirement on a community when a plan is already in place that meets the program requirements. Existing plans, such as those credited through CRS or those prepared to meet the requirements of Section 322 of the Stafford Act, as amended through the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, may meet the requirements of FMA with few or no modifications. Such plans may be submitted to TEMA for approval under FMA. FEMA recommends that a mitigation plan contain a list of potential projects and a brief rationale or explanation of how each project or group of projects contributes to the overall mitigation strategy outlined in the plan. FEMA discourages the inclusion of detailed project descriptions in mitigation plans because they: (1) place an unnecessary burden on communities; and (2) detract from the broader planning perspective intended by Section 1366, Subsection (c) of the NFIRA. Countywide or Multi-Jurisdictional Plans. It may be appropriate for a county or other multi-jurisdictional organization to apply for a planning grant to develop a Flood Mitigation Plan. The plan should be coordinated with, and ideally developed in cooperation with, all of the local jurisdictions within the geographical area of the plan. Many floodplain issues are better solved by evaluating the watershed in a more comprehensive fashion. However, it is appropriate that the Flood Mitigation Plan be specific enough for local communities to be able to adopt and enforce. Local governments may be able to add a brief appendix or attachment to a countywide plan to make it acceptable as a local Flood Mitigation Plan. Only the planning grant recipient?the county or the multi-jurisdictional entity?would be subject to the limitations of future planning grants.

2. Project Eligibility
For a proposed project to be eligible for funding under the FMA program, it must:

a. Be cost effective.

The project shall not cost more than the anticipated value of the reduction in both direct damages and subsequent negative impacts to the area if future floods were to occur. Both costs and benefits are computed on a net-present-value basis.

FEMA has developed interim guidance and software for determining the cost-effectiveness of hazard mitigation projects, including flood projects. Contact the State Hazard Mitigation Officer for information on this guidance.

The FEMA guidance and software are based on the Office of Management and Budget Guidelines and Discount Rates for Benefit/Cost Analysis of Federal Program (OMB Circular A-94).

Additional information on cost-effectiveness can be found under the Project Eligibility section of the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program contained in this section.

b. Conform with applicable Federal and State regulations and executive orders, including:

NFIP Floodplain Management Regulations at 44 CFR 60.3
44 CFR Part 9?Floodplain Management and Protection of Wetlands
Executive Order 12699, Seismic Safety
Applicable environmental laws and regulations, including:
44 CFR Part 10 - Environmental Considerations
Any other applicable Federal or State laws and regulations

c. Be technically feasible.

The project must use design and construction methods and materials that are approved, codified, recognized, fall under standard or accepted level of practice, or otherwise are determined to be generally acceptable by the design and construction industry.

d. Conform with the Flood Mitigation Plan.

The type of project being proposed must be identified in the community?s plan. The Flood Mitigation Plan should identify the types of projects that would be appropriate under certain conditions or in specific geographic areas. For example, a community may determine in its plan that acquisition of structures would be the preferred alternative for floodway areas, while elevation may be the more appropriate solution in other less threatened areas of the floodplain.

e. Be located physically in a participating NFIP community that is not on probation, or benefit such a community directly by reducing future flood damages.

To determine whether your community is a member of the NFIP, you can access the NFIP's Flood Insurance Program Community Status Book.