RI Gets Nearly $8 Million in Federal Funds to Improve Security & Enhance Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response Capabilities

Sep 1, 2017

9/01/2017 — 

WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to ensure that Rhode Island’s emergency responders and their federal partners are prepared to react to a range of crises and security challenges – including natural disasters – U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Representatives Jim Langevin and David Cicilline today announced that the state will receive $7,911,775 in federal national preparedness funds.

These federal funds, which are awarded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and will be administered by the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA), are targeted to help Rhode Island government agencies and organizations prepare for, respond to, and recover from regional and national emergencies, disasters, and mass-casualty events, in addition to providing for enhanced training and the purchase of essential equipment.   The funds may be used to help the state and local responders purchase new safety equipment and emergency power generators, or conduct rescue and public safety training to ensure first responders are prepared for a variety of situations.

“Hurricane Harvey illustrates why we need to invest in the emergency response capabilities of every community.  Rhode Island can use these federal funds for equipment and training to improve our capacity to respond to all sorts of emergencies and disasters,” said Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who helped secure $467 million for the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP); $350 million for the Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG); and $100 million for the Port Security Program (PSGP) .  “I commend RIEMA and all our first responders for the excellent work they do and I am pleased to help deliver these federal funds to make our communities safer.”

“As Rhode Islanders, we’ve seen our fair share of natural disasters, from the Hurricane of ’38 to the 2010 floods to Super Storm Sandy.  The destruction and heartache from Hurricane Harvey underscores the need to make sure our communities are prepared for the next major threat,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “That’s why this funding is so important.  It will help our brave and experienced first responders face down a public safety emergency like a major storm.  As a delegation, we fight hard to ensure Rhode Island receives this federal support to keep the public safe.”

“It goes without saying that the events of the last week have demonstrated the vital need for disaster preparedness,” said Congressman Langevin, a senior member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, which oversees the grant programs. “Our hearts go out to the victims of Hurricane Harvey and the first responders bravely fighting to save lives in the southeast. This funding provides essential support to ensure that Rhode Islanders are ready to face both devastating storms and manmade crises, including cybersecurity incidents.”

“As Rhode Islanders, we know to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. It’s critical that we’re always equipped to respond to any security challenges or natural disasters,” said Congressman Cicilline. “That’s why I’m proud that we’re bringing this significant funding back to Rhode Island today. These resources will ensure that Rhode Island’s first responders have the tools they need to keep us safe, no matter the circumstances.”

Specifically, Rhode Island will receive:

State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) Funding: $3,752,000

This program provides support for the implementation of state homeland security risk-driven strategies to address identified planning, organization, equipment, training, and exercise needs to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism and other catastrophic events.

Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG): $3,303,621

This funding provides grants for emergency preparedness to assist state and local governments in enhancing and sustaining all-hazards emergency management capabilities.  Administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the EMPG Program provides necessary direction, coordination, and guidance, and assistance, so that a comprehensive emergency preparedness system exists for all hazards.

Port Security Program (PSGP): $856,154

This program provides grants to help protect critical port infrastructure, enhance maritime domain awareness, improve port-wide maritime security risk management, and maintain or reestablish maritime security mitigation protocols that support port recovery and resiliency capabilities.  The Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency will receive $456,154; the town of Bristol will receive $300,000; and Rhode Island will receive an additional $100,000 in statewide funding for programs related to port security, training, exercises, and surveillance.

Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation noted that President Trump’s proposed budget seeks to slash the State Homeland Security Program by over $117 million (a 25% reduction); reduce the Emergency Management Performance Grants by $70.6 million (20% reduction); and cut the Port Security Grant Program in half by eliminating $52 million (a 52% reduction).

September is recognized as Disaster Preparedness Month.  Individuals and families are encouraged to take time to think about their emergency preparedness -- what to do, where to go and who to contact in the event of a disaster or emergency.  FEMA has launched the Ready campaign to promote preparedness through public involvement: https://www.ready.gov