In 2002, the United States Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) initiated the Disaster Resistant University Program. Administered by Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), the DRU Program assists universities and colleges to implement a sustained pre-disaster hazard mitigation program to reduce risk to students, faculty, staff, facilities and research assets. On March 27, 2008, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, Office of Risk Management, entered into a contract with MEMA to produce hazard mitigation plans on all campuses, with the exception of the University of Mississippi, who already has one. MUW was notified of the DRU award in a letter dated April 4, 2008 from Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning’s Office of Insurance and Risk Management; however the grant, in the amount of $84,600 (95%/5%) was not signed by IHL until October 20, 2008. The contract requires the plan to be completed and approved by MEMA and FEMA no later than March 20, 2010.
On April 4, 2008, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning notified MUW that the University had been approved for a multi-jurisdiction Disaster Resistant University (DRU) grant as announced by FEMA in the amount of $80,370 (95%/5%). The funding from this grant will finance 95% of the cost of assembling the hazard mitigation project. MUW will provide a matching commitment of $4,230 for a total of $84,600. The goal of the project is to produce and implement a sustained pre-disaster natural hazard mitigation plan for MUW to reduce the overall risk to students, faculty, staff, surrounding community, facilities and research assets. The ultimate goal is simply a safer university. Upon a positive review by the MEMA and FEMA, MUW will qualify for pre-disaster financial assistance to help initiate the mitigation actions outlined in the plan.
DRU Planning Team
The DRU planning team is composed of a cross-section of University staff, representatives from city government, community organizations, Columbus Air Force Base (CAFB), IHL, MEMA and Affiliated FM, the University’s property insurance carrier. The DRU planning team provides guidance and advice in order to complete the plan and will continue to provide communication to ensure continuing mitigation work into the future. The team serves as the overall guiding organization for the development of the mitigation plan. All members are allowed direct input into the process of the plan. As each phase of the plan is completed, each member is given a chance to review the plan and offer feedback. The team also provides overall guidance and assistance in the locating data specific to the University. Individual members of the team are involved throughout the planning process.
The mission of the DRU planning team is to identify potential hazards (natural and man-made), critical assets and resources that will minimize vulnerabilities to the University while estimating monetary losses that could incur due to these hazards.
Table 1 - MUW’s DRU Planning Team
Lowndes County Emergency Management
Columbus Fire Department
American Red Cross
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)
Dr. Bob Neal
Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning
Affiliated FM, Commercial Property Insurance Specialists
Columbus and Greenville Railway
Finance and Administration
Assistant to the President
Information Technology Services
Student Government Association
College of Nursing/Speech-Language Pathology
Campus Health Center
Mississippi School for Mathematics & Science
DRU Phases & Progress
The DRU plan is divided into four phases:
Phase 1 – Organize Resources Phase 2 – Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment Phase 3 – Developing the Mitigation Plan Phase 4 – Adoption and Implementation
The Mayor’s office and the Board of Supervisors have been mailed a draft of the plan in order to stay abreast of this project. Upon completion of phase 3, the plan will have to be adopted, implemented, monitored and evaluated.
Table 3 lists all hazards profiled in MUW’s DRU plan.
Table 3 - Hazards Profiled
Hurricanes and Tropical Storms
Computer Crime or Attack
Disease (Epidemic or otherwise)
Loss of Lifelines (Utilities)
Terrorist Acts/Explosive Devices
Transportation Accidents/ Explosions/HazMat/ Chemical Spills
Hazard Mitigation Plan
Review the MUW Hazard Mitigation Plan (.pdf)
Below are the goals, objectives and mitigation actions the DRU planning committee ranked as high priority. These actions will be implemented into the DRU plan.
Introduce, enhance and maintain hazard mitigation as a part of the University’s standard operating procedure in order to reduce/ eliminate future vulnerabilities for campus and community
Eliminate/reduce vulnerabilities to existing university property and critical resources from natural and man-made hazards
Protect the health, safety and welfare of students, faculty, staff and visitors at MUW
Reduce vulnerabilities to campus lifelines from hazards and minimize interruption of mission performance
Reduce / eliminate vulnerabilities to equipment, investments, unique research data and administrative records.
Division of Finance & Administration
Welty Hall, 3091100 College StreetMUW-1606Columbus, MS 39701 Phone: (662) 329-7145Fax: (662) 241-7824
1100 College Street Columbus, MS 39701phone: 662.329.4750 or 877.462.8439