Writing or updating a Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) is a process—a slow process. And, as hazard mitigation planners can attest, it can get even slower when it comes to identifying and/or updating mitigation actions. Mitigation actions, as you know, are specific actions, projects, activities, or processes taken to reduce or eliminate long-term risk and impact to people and property from natural disasters. So, why is developing this portion of a HMP so time-consuming?
For starters, all mitigation actions identified in the previous plan (if one exists) must be carefully reviewed (and updated) to show whether they are completed, ongoing, or no longer needed. Secondly, all projects must be approved by the associated jurisdiction. This can sometimes prove challenging as plan stakeholders may have different ideas for mitigating the hazard(s).
Common examples of mitigation actions include planning and zoning, floodplain protection, property acquisition and relocation, and public outreach (education and awareness) projects, to name a few.
To help state, local, tribal, and territorial governments come up with other meaningful and just as important, realistic, mitigation actions, BOLDplanning is happy to share the following ideas (by certain hazards) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):
Drought – Consider retrofitting crucial water supply systems or enhancing landscaping and design measures. Also, develop a plan to educate area farmers on soil and water conservation best practices.
Earthquake – Adopt and enforce building codes, and conduct regular inspections of building safety. Additionally, consider implementing structural mitigation techniques, such as strengthening and retrofitting non-reinforced masonry buildings. Last, but certainly not least, think about building safe rooms within the planning area.
Flooding – Limit or restrict development in floodplain areas by adopting and/or enforcing building codes and development standards. Discuss ways to improve stormwater management planning. Further, join or improve compliance with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Tornadoes – Consider requiring wind-resistant building techniques for new construction and/or strengthening existing structures. Also, bear in mind the construction of community safe rooms.
Wildfire – Designate high-risk areas and specify the conditions for their continued use and and/or future development through annexation. Address density and quantity of development, as well as emergency access, landscaping, and water supply. Create defensible space around structures and critical infrastructure. Promote conservation of open space or wildland urban interface (WUI) boundary zones to separate developed areas from high-hazard areas. Consider participating in the Firewise® program (it provides a series of steps that individual residents and their neighbors can take to keep their homes and neighborhoods safe from fire.)
Winter Weather – Identify specific at-risk populations that may be exceptionally vulnerable in the event of long-term power outages due to ice and snow. Organize outreach to vulnerable populations, including establishing and promoting accessible heating centers throughout the planning area. (The same holds true for Summer Weather, when excessive heat can pose risk to vulnerable populations, and cooling centers may be needed.)
Regardless of the hazards your state, local, tribal, or territorial government faces, always consider community education and awareness as a mitigation action. And, an ongoing one at that.
For more mitigation action ideas, download FEMA’s document, Mitigation Ideas: A Resource for Reducing Risk to Natural Hazards. It’s available at https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/30627.
Also, refer to the Local Mitigation Planning Handbook, located at https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1590070172371-48e87ca446838ba81afc2aca995940bc/FEMA_Local_Mitigation_Planning_Handbook_508.pdf. It provides more information on how to meet the standard for plan review related to the mitigation strategy section of the new or updated HMP.