Extreme weather is nothing new; there have always been floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. Only now, it seems such events are occurring more often, with greater intensity, and in some highly unusual places. Experts agree the primary reason is human activity that drives global warming and, ultimately, climate change. The result is rising land and water temperatures, rising sea levels, and marked differences in precipitation (less or more)­. Together, these effects create unprecedented hazard risks and social vulnerabilities for communities nationwide, deepening the need for greater mitigation measures. 

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), long-term climate changes can directly or indirectly affect many aspects of society in potentially disruptive ways. For example, frequent and intense extreme heat events can lead to illnesses and deaths, cause damage to crops, and reduce water supplies. Conversely, increased participation can support agriculture and replenish water sources, but intense storms can produce strong winds (or tornadoes), lightning, and hail. Such storms can damage property, cause loss of life and population displacement, and temporarily disrupt essential services such as telecommunications, transportation, and energy.

Hazard mitigation planning reduces loss of life and property by minimizing the impact of disasters. It begins with state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments identifying natural disaster risks and vulnerabilities common to their specific area. After identifying these risks, they develop long-term strategies for protecting people and property from similar events. Mitigation plans are crucial to breaking the cycle of disaster damage and reconstruction (FEMA). 

The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), the nation’s Congressionally chartered convener of experts from the building professions, industry, labor, consumer interests, and government, now believes mitigation saves up to $13 per $1 invested (this is up from $6 in previous years). 

Consider current events. 

Temperatures have soared to record highs all summer, and drought conditions, some considered extreme, persist across much of the country. As of this posting, 52 large, active wildfires are burning across Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and several other states. Flooding, on the other hand, is occurring in ordinarily arid locations, including California deserts. And the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, which is approaching its peak, is expected to be above normal. In fact, forecasters expect a high chance for high-impact hurricanes on the U.S. mainland between now and the season’s end on November 30, 2022. 

The recent (July 2022) flooding in eastern Kentucky is also a powerful reminder of Mother Nature’s force and the growing need to mitigate against such hazards. There, 14-16 inches of rain fell over a four-day period, saturating the ground and causing rivers, creeks, and streams to rise to historic levels. Today, the community continues to sift through the debris and mourn the