WHAT IS HAZARD MITIGATION?
Natural hazards 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 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 that 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 careful 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 policies, 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 hazard events in Rensselaer 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).
Jurisdictions located within Rensselaer 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 development 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 development process as part of our Rensselaer County Natural Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee (the “Planning Committee”).
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, providing feedback and reaching out to the public and other key stakeholders in the community, and adopting the final plan.
The hazard mitigation planning process will be conducted over the course of approximately one year, beginning in the Summer of 2010. Key steps of the process include:
- Research a full range of natural hazard events.
- Identify the subset of significant hazards; these will be the focus of the plan.
- Identify the location and extent of hazard areas.
- Identify assets located within hazard areas.
- Characterize existing and potential future assets at risk by analyzing land uses and development trends.
- Assess vulnerabilities to the identified hazards.
- Identify local, state, and Federal capabilities that support hazard mitigation.
- Develop a mitigation strategy by evaluating and prioritizing goals, objectives, and hazard mitigation actions.
- Adopt the plan.
- Implement the Plan and monitor its progress.
While natural 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 in our county.