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Hazard Mitigation Action Plan: Safety, Strategy, and Funding

September is National Preparedness Month. This is the first in a series of Ebb and Flow articles encouraging awareness across the state this month.

Preparedness is not limited to personal disaster kits and knowing your emergency evacuation routes. Hazard Mitigation Action Plans (HMAPs) are a way for local governments to put preparedness at the forefront by prioritizing mitigation strategies and reducing the effects of hazards.

Katie Hogan, P.E., CFM, and Ben McWhorter, E.I.T., CFM, of Freese and Nichols will be discussing facets of HMAPs at the TFMA 2013 Fall Technical Seminars in Austin, Texas. Their presentation will be on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, from 4:45-5:15 p.m., as part of Track A – Floodplain Administrators Panel Discussion. The content of their abstract for the conference is below.

Hazard Mitigation Action Plan: Safety, Strategy, and Funding

The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 requires all local governments to prepare a Hazard Mitigation Action Plan (HMAP) to receive funding under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). This requirement is intended to help communities minimize loss of life and property due to natural hazards.

HMAPs can be developed by a single jurisdiction, or multiple jurisdictions within a region can join together to form a multi-jurisdictional plan. Regardless of how many entities participate in the HMAP, each community must first identify natural hazards that are likely to threaten their citizens and infrastructure. An in-depth risk assessment then must be performed for each of the identified hazards. The risk assessment includes an analysis of how likely a hazard is to occur within a community based on historical data as well as an assessment of the impacts a hazard will have on a community’s infrastructure and critical facilities.

The most important process in the creation of an HMAP is for a community to develop a mitigation strategy. The mitigation strategy “identifies and analyzes a comprehensive range of specific mitigation actions and projects being considered to reduce the effects of each hazard” (44 CFR 201.6). The mitigation actions can include public outreach, updating or creating new ordinances, specific projects to reduce hazard risks, implementation of community-wide safety programs, and many other specific actions that will effectively mitigate the loss of life and property in the event of a hazard. FEMA provides several mitigation ideas for a wide array of hazards, but each jurisdiction is free to customize actions to best suit the needs of its community.

The most important aspect of the HMAP is to reduce the effect of hazards; however, there are many funding opportunities that become available to communities with an HMAP that has been approved my FEMA. There are also funding opportunities to assist communities with the development of the HMAP.

Freese and Nichols has provided consulting services for the development of the HMAPs for the Town of Little Elm and City of Arlington and is in the process of developing the Town of Trophy Club HMAP. Our team also assisted the Towns of Little Elm and Trophy Club in obtaining HMGP funding to develop their respective HMAPs. This presentation will provide a summary of how to create an HMAP, its benefits for the community, and examples of the type of funding available with an approved and adopted HMAP. It will also provide real world experiences and lessons learned in creating HMAPs for communities.

For more information about TFMA and to register for the conference, go to TFMA.org.

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