DHS pushes cities to develop regional disaster recovery plans

Published 5 January 2006

DHS insists that cities applying for urban security grants coordinate their disaster and recovery programs with neighboring cities so that they can present a regional disaster recovery plans in their application

On Tuesday we reported that at least one lesson of Katrina has been absorbed by DHS: In its 2006 grants to cities the department will take into account not only the threat of terrorism cities face, but also the likelihood of natural disasters and pandemics. DHS has made another important change in the way it awards security grants to urban centers: Neighboring cities will have to present a joint regional disaster preparation and recovery plan to win a DHS grant. The days of each city individually applying for grants are largely over. “Our security is much too important to be determined by political or arbitrary formulas. We have to drive those decisions by where the risks are,” DHS secretary Michael Chertoff said. “Regions are going to have to come together. Hopefully, they will figure out a way to allocate decisions among themselves. If they don’t, we will,” he said.

Look at California: Last year, when the Bay Area received $34.2 million under the urban area security grant program, San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose put in bids individually, each grouped with immediately surrounding areas. This week these three cities, and nine other Bay Area cities of more than 100,000 people (Berkeley, Daly City, Fremont, Hayward, Palo Alto, Richmond, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, and Vallejo) were given sixty days to develop a single application. It is not clear whether the joint regional application will gain these cities more or fewer dollars (the $34.2 2005 allocation to the three cities was already smaller than the 2004 $44 million grant). At least the Bay Area cities were not told what Sacramento and San Diego were told by DHS: The latter two would be eligible for grants this year, but not in future years.

DHS will award $765 million in competitive grants to urban areas to address terrorist risks and other vulnerabilities.

-read more in this report; and see DHS’ news release on urban area security initiative