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FEMA Announces First-Ever Community Disaster Resilience Zones

September 7, 2023 | Cole Arreola-Karr

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced on September 6 the first round of Community Disaster Resilience Zone (CDRZ) designations.

In total, 483 census tracts received the CDRZ label. Special districts with eligible pre-hazard mitigation projects, as included in FEMA-approved Hazard Mitigation Plans (HMP), in the selected zones may be able to access enhanced resources to advance mitigation projects. FEMA will announce a second round of designations in the Fall for territorial and tribal lands. 

Among the CDRZ program’s benefits include up to a 90 percent federal cost share on their designated projects, technical assistance for project evaluation and preparation, and application assistance. 

May contain: plant, vegetation, tree, land, nature, outdoors, soil, wilderness, grass, rock, art, collage, pond, water, woodland, scenery, field, person, sea, and grove

The CDRZ program was authorized with the NSDC-supported Community Disaster Resilience Zones Act (Public Law 117-255) and began implementation in 2023. FEMA developed a natural hazards risk assessment methodology using components of the National Risk Index. This index is based on cumulative impacts of estimated losses resulting from natural hazards to buildings, people, and agriculture; social vulnerability to the hazards; and current community resilience. The designation process also leveraged the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool, a public tool indicating disadvantaged communities based on pollution and climate risks

Specifically, the CDRZ Act allows FEMA to identify 50 census tracts rated at the highest individual hazard risk ratings, with at least 1 percent of the census tracts with the highest individual risk rating in each risk category, and balanced with equity in coastal, inland, urban, suburban, rural regions. The census tracts are CDRZ qualified for at least five years. 

Click here for a FEMA Frequently Asked Questions document regarding the CDRZ program. 

Special districts with eligible hazard mitigation needs are encouraged to contact their local emergency management agency for more information.

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