WHAT IS HAZARD MITIGATION?
Hazards of all types have the potential to cause property loss, loss of life, economic hardship, and threats to public health and safety. While an important aspect of emergency management deals with disaster recovery (those actions that a community must take to repair damages and make itself whole in the wake of a natural or man-made disaster) an equally important aspect of emergency management involves hazard mitigation. Hazard mitigation measures are efforts taken before a disaster happens to lessen the impact of future disasters of that type will have on people and property in the community. They are things you do today to be more protected in the future. Hazard mitigation actions taken in advance of a hazard event are essential to breaking the typical disaster cycle of damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage. With carful selection, hazard mitigation actions can be long-term, cost-effective means of reducing the risk of loss and help create a more disaster-resistant and sustainable community.
WHAT IS A HAZARD MITIGATION PLAN?
A Hazard Mitigation Plan is a well-organized and well-documented evaluation of the hazards that a jurisdiction is susceptible to, and the extent to which these events will occur. Hazard Mitigation Plans identify an area's vulnerability to the effects of the natural hazards typically present in a certain area, as well as the goals, objectives, and actions required for minimizing future loss of life and property damage as a result of hazard events. The primary purpose of mitigation planning is to systematically identify policies, actions, and tools that can be used to implement those actions.
PURPOSE AND NEED FOR THE PLAN
Hazard mitigation plans are developed BEFORE a disaster strikes. The plans identify community polices, actions, and tools for long-term implementation to reduce risk and potential for future losses. Adopted, implemented and maintained on an ongoing basis, these plans will gradually, but steadily, lessen the impacts associated with hazards events in Erie County.
As of November 1, 2004 communities that do not have a FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan in place are no longer eligible for FEMA project grant monies under programs such as the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program (FMA), Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) and Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program (PDM).
Erie County recognized early on the benefits of having a plan in place, and took the initiative early on to prepare its initial Hazard Mitigation Plan in 2004. This plan was later approved by FEMA in 2005. To maintain their eligibility to apply for FEMA mitigation project grants, the plan must be updated and re-approved by FEMA on a five-year cycle. This marks the first of the plan’s formal updates since its inception.
While the primary advantage of having a mitigation plan in place is the jurisdiction’s eligibility to apply for FEMA hazard mitigation project grant monies, participation has other advantages as well:
- Because a consulting team has been hired to conduct the analyses and author the plan, participation involves relatively little effort on the part of jurisdictions.
- Because Federal grant monies have been received to develop the plan, participation involves little cost to local jurisdictions - only allocation of staff time to participate in the process, and a contribution toward the grant’s 25% matching funds.
- Multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plans are practical for addressing issues that do not recognize political boundaries.
- Over time, implementation of the plan will reduce economic damages resulting from future natural disasters.
Jurisdictions located within Erie County who wish to be recognized by FEMA as being compliant with DMA 2000 must either: (a) participate with the County in the multi-jurisdictional plan update process and formally adopt the final plan, or (b) prepare their own hazard mitigation plan.
Elected and appointed government officials, business leaders, volunteers of non-profit organizations, citizens, and other stakeholders are being invited to participate in our multi-jurisdictional plan update process as part of our Erie County Natural Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee (the “Planning Committee”). Click here for more information on our organizational structure. (at ‘here’ do link to Organizational Structure tab)
Active participation in the process is the only way a jurisdiction can be seen in FEMA's eyes as a 'participating jurisdiction' that has met the requirements of DMA 2000 and is therefore eligible to apply for Federal funds for hazard mitigation projects. Participation includes attending meetings, identifying and analyzing mitigation actions, providing feedback and reaching out to the public and other key stakeholders in the community, and adopting the final plan.
The planning team will update the most recent version of the countywide plan in order to comply with the latest FEMA requirements, which have changed somewhat since the plan was initially approved by FEMA. The hazard mitigation plan update process will begin in June of 2011. A draft of the updated document is targeted for completion in December of 2011. While disasters cannot be prevented from occurring, the continued implementation of our hazard mitigation plan over the long-term will gradually, but steadily, lessen the impacts associated with hazard events across our county.