Hazard Mitigation Plan

A Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) allows a locality to identify policies & actions to reduce the risks from hazards. To be eligible for federal disaster & flood insurance programs, localities must have a regularly updated hazard mitigation plan.

Every $1 spent on mitigation saves $4 in disaster recovery. FEMA requires HMP consider future natural hazard events, which include changing weather conditions & flood vulnerability. This recent requirement provides perfect opportunity to include SLR into HMPs, particularly because FEMA now funds hazard mitigation projects that include sea level rise estimates.

Poquoson updated its HMP in 2015 to include maps detailing historic flood events, vulnerability to future events, estimates for potential losses, & essential facilities & infrastructure within the 100 & 500-year floodplains. HMP goals: protection of existing buildings through structural & non-structural mitigation projects & linking hazard information with planning initiatives. Mitigation actions: continued participation in CRS program, elevation, relocation, & retrofit of vulnerable structures, elevation of new critical facilities, & protection of natural resources acting as SLR buffers.

Broward County Fl. Enhanced Local Mitigation Strategy (2012): Plan includes potential structural losses in economic value & acreage in three different SLR scenarios (1, 2, & 3 feet).

Although not a HMP, Portsmouth’s Floodplain Management Plan quantifies SLR risk in losses of land (sq. feet) & its correlative percentage of the City’s land area for four SLR scenarios 0-8 feet (pg. 33)) - these losses are also illustrated on a map (pg. 64).

FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program (HMA): new ‘Climate Resilient Mitigation Activities’ eligible for funding: Aquifer Storage and Recovery, Floodplain and Stream Restoration (FSR), Flood Diversion and Storage (FDS), & Green Infrastructure Methods. See Wetlands Watch primer on FEMA HMA Program FY15 Policy Updates for examples & info. View a chart of eligible activities available for HMA funding.

FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program (PDM) (FY 2016): Annual funding available to states/localities. Up to $400,000 available for new mitigation plans & up to $150,000 for local mitigation plan updates.

FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP): Funding available after a Presidential major disaster declaration. Up to 15% of first $2 billion of estimated disaster assistance, up to 10% of amounts between $2-10 billion, & up to 7.5% of amounts between $10-35.3 billion. States with enhanced mitigation plans are eligible for assistance of up to 20% of estimated disaster assistance, not to exceed $35.33 billion. (Ex: Florida Enhanced Hazard Mitigation Plan)

FEMA Flood Mitigation Assistance Program (FMA): Annual funding for hazard mitigation projects & planning that reduces or eliminates risk of flood damage to buildings insured under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

HMP-related activities not eligible for FEMA funding include; hazard identification/mapping, GIS software & data acquisition, public awareness/education about mitigation & project scoping or development (project planning).

NOAA Regional Coastal Resilience Grants: Awards ($9 million annually) for project proposals that advance resiliency strategies, including hazard mitigation planning.

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Poquoson used FEMA's HAZUS program to estimate that a 100-year flood event could result in over $400 million of damage. Existing structural elevation projects save the City an estimated $100 million against damages. 

Some localities made citizens aware that emergency response personnel don’t respond to calls they cannot get to safely, underscoring the need for resilient infrastructure.

Many localities participate in regional HMPs that use general language to ensure eligibility for FEMA funding, however more detailed, localized planning would increase the efficacy of hazard mitigation efforts.

In one locality, emergency managers had received no training on resilience or adaptation issues. The same locality has had issues generating citizen interest, which has make the dissemination of emergency evacuation knowledge difficult.

Most localities in the Tidewater region have used Hazard Mitigation money for home elevation, a costly, band-aid approach to resiliency. Wetlands Watch’s study on the challenges of SLR mitigation found a backlog of over $430 million in mitigation costs for private structures within four Hampton Roads localities

  • Opportunity for citizen engagement, increasing public awareness of local natural hazards
  • Allows for regional cooperation between localities vulnerable to the same hazards
  • FEMA hazard mitigation funds alone are woefully inadequate to address these challenges
  • Quality, enforcement, effectiveness of the plan will vary based on a locality’s available resources
  • FEMA’s floodplain management & hazard mitigation programs geared towards riverine flooding & not always compatible with coastal or tidal flooding - mitigation strategies can be different
    • Ex: filling in basements in coastal floodplain is a bad idea when flooding is coming up through the ground and into the basement, rather than coming from an overflowing river bank

Both the EPA and NOAA recommend incorporating HMPs into a locality’s Comprehensive Plan. FEMA recommends a 10-step process for hazard mitigation planning, which is also eligible for CRS credit (Activity 510). Localities can participate in regional or individual HMPs.

Benefits of single jurisdictional plans: sole autonomy in creating plan & reduced administrative complexity. Ex: Poquoson & Chesapeake.

Benefits of multi-jurisdictional plans: foster collaboration between localities, efficiency by avoiding duplicative documents, & enable comprehensive mitigation approaches.

Ex: Accomack-Northampton Regional HMP & Middle Peninsula Regional HMP

1: Up to 382 points (510, Floodplain Management Planning (FMP), Manual pg. 510-4):

Credit for developing a hazard mitigation plan (following a designated process).

2: Up to 115 points (Activity 610, Flood Response Operations (FRO), pg. 610-11):

Credit for creating a detailed flood warning and response operations plan

Code of Virginia, § 15.2-2223.3 

Local hazard mitigation plans may be incorporated into the Comp. plan.

Code of Virginia, § 44-146.18

VDEM will coordinate with localities on preparedness plans to prevent, respond, & recover from all disasters.

44 C.F.R. § 201.4

State risk assessments must provide an overview of all natural hazards, including the probability of future hazard events.

44 C.F.R. § 201.6:

Localities must have an approved mitigation plan to receive HMGP grants.

44 C.F.R. § 201.6(b)(1)

The planning process shall include an opportunity for the public to comment on the plan.

Weather & Hazards Data Viewer (Digital Coast): mapping tool combines weather forecasts with hazard planning data

Coastal County Snapshots (NOAA): simple, easy to read data assessing a locality’s exposure & resilience to flooding

Hazus Average Annualized Loss Viewer (FEMA): average annualized loss due to flooding for localities

Hazard Mitigation Assistance Guidance: document to provide detailed information on FEMA HMA funding

City of Poquoson. (2014). Hazard Mitigation Plan. City of Poquoson.

FEMA. (2015). Hazard Mitigation Assistance Guidance. FEMA.

FEMA. (2015). Plan Integration: Linking Local Planning Efforts.

Thomas, J., & DeWeese, J. (2015). Reimagining New Orleans Post-Katrina: A Case Study in Using Disaster Recovery Funds to Rebuild More Resiliently. Georgetown Climate Center.