On behalf of BOLDplanning, a division of Agility, congratulations to the Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency (AFCEMA) for obtaining FEMA approval for their recently updated Multijurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan.

For several months, BOLDplanning, AFCEMA, and other plan stakeholders, including the cities of Alpharetta, Atlanta, Chattahoochee Hills, College Park, East Point, Fairburn, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Milton, Mountain Park, Palmetto, Roswell, Sandy Springs, South Fulton, and Union City, have collaborated to update the county’s previous plan (as required by FEMA). The project, as with other hazard mitigation plans, involved identifying/profiling hazards, determining/updating the status of previous mitigation projects, and identifying new projects, among other things. The plan will serve Fulton County and all the participating jurisdictions for a period of five years.

FEMA’s approval of the Fulton County Multijurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan confirms compliance with the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-390) and ensures the county’s continued eligibility for mitigation grants (pre- and post-disaster). These include but are not limited to the Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) Grant Program and the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Grant Program.

Funds from such programs are commonly used by state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments to support all types of mitigation projects. Commonly among them are the construction of safe rooms, the installation of warning sirens, the retrofitting of buildings, the installation of retaining walls and water drainage systems, and mitigation education and awareness campaigns.

Hazard mitigation plans, as often expressed by FEMA, are key to breaking the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage. In fact, according to an analysis by the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), natural hazard mitigation saves six dollars, on average, for every one dollar spent on federal mitigation grants. This number is up from four from a previous NIBS study.

With an updated, FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan in place, AFCEMA and the entire planning area are in a much better position to safeguard residents, businesses, schools, and critical infrastructure against all identified natural hazards. These include drought, earthquake, flooding, tornado, and wildfire, among others. The updated plan also addresses the human-caused hazard of dam failure given the presence of 150 dams in Fulton County (National Inventory of Dams).

“Congratulations again to Fulton County and the many jurisdictions who participated in the planning effort,” said James Woulfe, CBCP, BOLDplanning. “It was both an honor and a pleasure to assist in the process, and our entire team wishes the county all the best as it works toward achieving its mitigation goals.”

Also, special thanks to Destiny Ruffin, Emergency Management Lieutenant/Project Coordinator for AFCEMA, for her tireless work to see the project through to completion.

Now that the hazard mitigation plan is complete, BOLDplanning is actively working with AFCEMA to develop the county’s Local Emergency Operations Plan (LEOP) using the BOLDplanning.com platform. Earlier this month, company representatives conducted a project kick-off planning meeting and trained the AFCEMA team on the cloud-based software. The two will reconvene in the near future to discuss the LEOP’s development and determine next steps for plan finalization.

Last, but not least, BOLDplanning and AFCEMA are also partnering to update Fulton County’s Continuity of Operations (COOP) plan. Like the LEOP, the COOP plan will be developed using the BOLDplanning.com platform and involve multiple departments. Its purpose is to ensure the continuance of Fulton County’s Essential Functions, or EFs, in an emergency or business disruption. In other words, all the services needed to support the health, safety, and welfare of county residents in the event of a natural disaster, cyberattack, power grid failure, etc.

As a side note, the population of Fulton County, as of the U.S. Decennial Census 2020, was 1,066,710, making it Georgia’s most populous county and the only one in the state with over one million inhabitants.