What is the quality of your local hazard mitigation plan? Does it drive the protection, preservation, and conservation of property and life? Has your whole community embraced the process, including senior and elected officials?

Hazard mitigation plans can help drive the resiliency of your community, your region, and your state. Deep within the roots of the plan and the process it can identify ways to ensure your community is better prepared for the evolving disasters in which have impacted many prior to now. And if your community has not been impacted by a disaster? You have the unique opportunity most have not, the ability to learn from others before it happens to you.

What can a FEMA approved hazard mitigation plan do for you and your community?

First and foremost, an approved plan grants your municipality direct access to the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM), and Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) grant programs. FEMA appropriates hundreds of millions of dollars each year through these grant programs to build tornado safe rooms, storm shelters, buyout out flood prone properties, and increase structural earthquake resistance just to name a few. Without an approved hazard mitigation plan, none of this project grant funding is available to you or your community.

Hazard mitigation planning yields other benefits in addition to increases in financial assistance opportunities. A hazard mitigation plan’s development process requires the inclusion of planning partners from your community. This often includes city managers, planners, elected officials, state agency specialists, and regional support offices. Their input, experience, and expertise is solicited throughout the development of a hazard mitigation plan. Indirect lines of cooperation are built by working with one another. The new city manager across the county? You now have a professional rapport with them. The county commissioner who conducts your budget review? They’ve seen you in action have witnessed your results. Additionally, the inclusion of the public builds trust in their community and its government. This collaboration seeps into efforts of other intergovernmental and community programs.

The other non-financial benefit is the most nuanced, but arguably the most important; getting people, citizens and local government employees, to think about hazard mitigation in their day-to-day lives; in every decision they make. The development of a hazard mitigation plan acts in the same way as a public awareness and education campaign. A citizen wants to remodel their home? They understand why flood regulations may not allow them to and why the newly adopted building codes require more. The city manager you recently built rapport with? They see that limitations and restrictions protect the people with good reason.

Each of these benefits encourages the growth of the others, they’re intertwined. By pushing for a robust and inclusive hazard mitigation planning process, the total burden on other direct resiliency and emergency management programs is ultimately reduced. Are you just checking the box or are you building a tangible plan for the future?