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Study: Kansas benefits most from federal disaster grants

July 4, 2019

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A study has found that Kansas saves more money, on average, than any other state that uses federal grants to mitigate natural disasters.

The Pew Charitable Trusts recently released its data analysis showing that for every $1 of federal funds spent on protecting against flood and tornado damage, Kansas avoided $6.81 in potential recovery costs. Researchers drew from a previous study of federal disaster mitigation grants between 1993 and 2016.

The data shows Missouri trailed close behind, with each federal dollar saving $6.72, the Kansas News Service reported.

The findings come after Kansas saw heavy rain and flooding this spring, delaying wheat harvests. A May tornado near Pittsburg damaged buildings and toppled power lines and trees.

The mitigation programs in Kansas and Missouri only addressed threats of wind and flooding, but the projects had a large payback in the two states.

Federal programs typically have a match — typically 25 % — that must be paid by the state or local government receiving the grant. Researchers found Kansas and the federal government spent roughly $220 million on wind and flood mitigation, which netted about $1.5 billion in savings.

“The mitigation projects that the Kansas Division of Emergency Management are able to support or implement are largely reliant on the federal grants,” said Bryan Murdie, director of the Planning and Mitigation Branch at the Kansas Division of Emergency Management.

California, which is prone to earthquakes and fires, ranked near the bottom of the list, with every dollar of mitigation saving $3.26.

Colin Foard, one of the study’s authors, said governments should find ways to fit mitigation costs into their budgets.

“The takeaway for policymakers really should be that investing in mitigation saves,” Foard said.

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