December 15, 2011
EMERGENCY OPERATION SHELTERS AND GRANTS
By: Veronica Rose, Chief Analyst
You asked why Mansfield was chosen as the site of a regional emergency center for the state in the aftermath of the October 2011 snowstorm (Storm Alfred). You also asked if the federal government is providing any emergency operations center (EOC) grants in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and storm Alfred.
In the aftermath of the October freak snowstorm that struck the Northeast, disrupting utility service for several days, several towns across the state set up emergency shelters for residents who had lost power. According to the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP), the state played no role in determining the location of any of these shelters. Rather, the decisions were made by the towns. The Mansfield shelter, which was located at the Mansfield Community Center, accommodated residents from Ashford, Coventry, Mansfield, and Willington.
The federal Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) EOC grants are available annually and are not tied to specific occurrences such as Hurricane Irene or storm Alfred. Rather, the program provides competitive grants to construct or renovate a state, local, or tribal government's primary EOC to “improve emergency management and preparedness capabilities.” DHS adopts the National Fire Protection Association's definition of an EOC as a “facility or capability from which direction and control is exercised in an emergency. This type of center or capability is designated to ensure that the capacity exists for the leadership to direct and control operations from a centralized facility or capability in the event of an emergency.” All 56 states and territories are eligible for EOC funding. The governor of each state or territory must designate an administrative agency to apply for and administer the funds on behalf of eligible EOCs. In Connecticut, DESPP is the designated agency.
Eligible EOCs were able to request up to $1,000,000 for construction projects or up to $250,000 for renovation projects under the 2011 program. The program has a 75% federal and 25% grantee cash- or in-kind cost match requirement.
In FY 11, the total amount of EOC funds available was $14,101,740. DHS released its guidance and application kit for FY 11 funding in May 2011. The deadline for submitting completed grant applications was June 20, 2011. Information on FY 12 grants is not yet available. When DESPP receives the information, it will forward it to towns. As in past years, the department expects the grant process to be very competitive.