About Hazard Mitigation

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Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000
The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA 2000) is federal legislation that establishes a pre-disaster hazard mitigation program and new requirements for the national post-disaster Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).  DMA 2000 encourages and rewards local and state pre-disaster planning, promotes sustainability, and seeks to integrate state and local planning with an overall goal of strengthening statewide hazard mitigation planning.  This enhanced planning approach enables local, tribal, and state governments to articulate accurate and specific needs for hazard mitigation, which results in faster, more efficient allocation of funding and more effective risk reduction projects.

What is hazard mitigation?
Hazard mitigation is any action taken to reduce the loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters (natural, technological, and man-made) (www.fema.gov)  It is often considered the first of the four phases of emergency management - mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

Mitigation measures fall into the following six general categories:

  1. Prevention: Measures such as planning and zoning, open space preservation, development regulations, building codes, storm water management, fire fuel reduction, soil erosion, and sediment control.
  2. Property Protection: Measures such as acquisition, relocation, storm shutters, rebuilding, barriers, floodproofing, insurance, and structural retrofits for high winds and earthquake hazards.
  3. Public Education and Awareness: Measures such as outreach projects, real estate disclosure, hazard information centers, technical assistance, and school-age and adult education programs.
  4. Natural Resource Protection: Measures such as erosion and sediment control, stream corridor protection, vegetative management, and wetlands preservation.
  5. Emergency Services: Measures such as hazard threat recognition, hazard warning systems, emergency response, protection of critical facilities, and health and safety maintenance.
  6. Structural Projects: Measures such as dams, levees, seawalls, bulkheads, revetments, high flow diversions, spillways, buttresses, debris basins, retaining walls, channel modifications, storm sewers, and retrofitted buildings and elevated roadways (seismic protection).

What is a hazard mitigation plan?
FEMA defines a Hazard Mitigation Plan as the documentation of a state or local government's evaluation of natural hazards and the strategies to mitigate such hazards.

Hazard mitigation planning is the process of determining how to reduce or eliminate the loss of life and property damage resulting from natural hazards.  Section 322 of the DMA 2000 specifically addresses mitigation planning at the state and local levels.  FEMA has promulgates hazard mitigation planning regulations pursuant to the DMA 2000.  These regulations identify four essential phases to mitigation planning: (1) organizing resources, (2) assess the risks, (3) develop the mitigation plan, and (4) implement the plan and monitor progress.

Somerset County has prepared a Multi-Jurisdictional All-Hazard Mitigation Plan.  The Plan demonstrates the county's and participating jurisdictions' commitment to reducing risk and serves as a guide for decision makers as they commit resources to minimize the effects of natural hazards.

How does this plan benefit Somerset County?
A hazard mitigation plan will assist Somerset County with the following:

  • An increased understanding of natural hazards the county faces.
  • Development of more sustainable and disaster-resistant communities
  • Eligibility for Federal funds for pre-disaster mitigation planning (DMA2000)
  • Partnerships that support planning and mitigation efforts and may offer potential financial savings such as
    • Flood insurance premium reduction
    • Broader resources for funding of mitigation projects
    • Enhanced benefit-cost ratios for COE projects
  • Reduced long-term impacts and damages to human health and structures and reduced repair costs

Proactive mitigation leads to sustainable, more cost-effective projects.  By contract, reactive mitigation tends to lead to the "quick-fix" alternatives; it simply costs too much to address the effects of disasters only after they happen.  A surprising amount of damage can be prevented if the county anticipates where and how disasters will occur, and take steps to mitigate those damages.