HMP Summary and Process
What is Hazard Mitigation?
The term “hazard mitigation” describes actions that can help reduce or eliminate long-term risks caused by hazards or disasters such as floods, hurricanes, wildfires, landslides, tornadoes, or earthquakes. As the costs of disasters continue to rise, governments and citizens must find ways to reduce hazard risks to our communities. Efforts made to reduce hazard risks should be compatible with other community goals; safer communities are more attractive to employers as well as residents. As communities plan for new development and improvements to existing infrastructure, mitigation can and should be an important component of the planning effort.
While mitigation activities can and should be taken before a disaster occurs, hazard mitigation is essential after a disaster. Often after disasters, repairs and reconstruction are completed in such a way as to simply restore damaged property to pre-disaster conditions. These efforts may “get things back to normal”, but the replication of pre-disaster conditions may result in a repetitive cycle of damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage. Hazard mitigation breaks this repetitive cycle by producing less vulnerable conditions through post-disaster repairs and reconstruction. The implementation of such hazard mitigation actions leads to building stronger, safer and smarter communities that are better able to reduce future injuries and future damage.
Hazard Mitigation Breaks the Cycle
When recurrent disasters take place such as coastal or riverine flooding, repeated damage and reconstruction can occur. This recurrent reconstruction becomes more expensive as the years go by. Hazard mitigation breaks this expensive cycle of recurrent damage and increasing reconstruction costs by taking a long-term view of rebuilding and recovering following disasters.
What Are the Benefits?
Effective hazard mitigation planning can provide the following benefits:
- Reduces the loss of life, property, essential services, critical facilities and economic hardship
- Reduces short-term and long-term recovery and reconstruction costs
- Increases cooperation and communication within the community through the planning process
- Increases potential for state and federal funding for recovery and reconstruction projects
Hazard mitigation actions are commonly broken into four different categories:
- Local Plans and Regulations – These actions include government authorities, policies or codes that influence the way land and buildings are being developed and built.
- Structure and Infrastructure Protection – These actions involve modifying existing structures and infrastructure to protect them from a hazard or remove them from a hazard area. This could apply to public or private structures as well as critical facilities and infrastructure. This type of action also involves projects to construct manmade structures to reduce the impact of hazards.
- Natural Systems Protection – These are actions that minimize damage and losses, and also preserve or restore the functions of natural systems.
- Education and Awareness Programs – These are actions to inform and educate citizens, elected officials, and property owners about hazards and potential ways to mitigate them. These actions may also include participation in national programs such as StormReady and Firewise Communities.
- Enforcement of building codes, floodplain management codes and environmental regulations
- Public safety measures such as continual maintenance of roadways, culverts and dams
- Acquisition and relocation of structures, such as purchasing buildings located in a floodplain
- Acquisition of hazard-prone lands in their undeveloped state to ensure they remain so
- Retrofitting of structures & design of new construction such as elevating a home or building
- Protecting critical facilities and infrastructure from future hazard events
- Mitigation, disaster recovery and Continuity of Operations Planning
- Development and distribution of outreach materials related to hazard mitigation
- Deployment of warning systems
Hazard Mitigation Plan Update Process Summary
STEP 1: Organize Resources and Build the Planning Team
Relevant studies, plans, and reports are collected along with communication resources that allow the public to be involved throughout the planning process. A planning team is “built” that consists of county and municipal representatives, and local and regional stakeholders.
STEP 2: Develop the Plan’s Risk Assessment
A risk assessment is achieved through the identification of the location and geographic extent of natural and human-caused hazards that can affect the county along with their impacts and future probability. Scientific and anecdotal evidence of past events is collected and evaluated, and the hazards and losses the county and communities have sustained are ranked high to low.
STEP 3: Assess Capabilities
Capabilities are assessed by reviewing county and local capabilities in emergency management, the National Flood Insurance Program, planning and regulatory authority, administrative and technical knowledge, and financial capabilities.
STEP 4: Develop the Mitigation Strategy
Previous goals, objectives, and actions and are evaluated and updated as needed. The planning team defines appropriate mitigation techniques, and identifies and prioritizes mitigation actions and projects in the mitigation strategy.
STEP 5: Determine Plan Maintenance Process
The HMP is an ever developing document that must be regularly reviewed, updated, and maintained. A schedule including responsible parties or agencies involved with monitoring, evaluating, and updating the plan during its five-year cycle is prepared. A process for integrating the updated Mitigation Strategy into existing plans and reports is outlined and a plan for continued public outreach and participation must also be determined.
STEP 6: Obtain Mitigation Plan Approval and Adoption
The draft plan is made available for public comment through the project website then submitted to the New Jersey State Office of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for review and approval. Once the plan has been determined to meet all state and federal requirements and receives official approval, it must be adopted by all participating jurisdictions.