Disasters can cause loss of life, damage buildings and infrastructure, and have devastating consequences for a community’s economic, social, and environmental well-being. Hazard mitigation planning is the process used by Clayton’s City Council to identify risks and vulnerabilities associated with natural disasters, and to develop long-term strategies for protecting our citizens and property from future hazard events. Hazard mitigation is sustained action taken to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and their property from hazards.
Mitigation Planning Process:
The planning process promoted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is as important as the resulting plan because it creates a framework for governments to reduce the negative impacts from future disasters on lives, property, and the economy. Mitigation planning includes the following elements:
Public Involvement – Planning creates a way to solicit and consider input from diverse interests. Involving stakeholders is essential to building community-wide support for the plan. In addition to emergency managers, the planning process involves other government agencies (e.g., zoning, floodplain management, public works, community and economic development), businesses, civic groups, environmental groups, and schools.
Risk Assessment – Mitigation plans identify natural hazards and risks based on history, estimate the potential frequency and magnitude of disasters, and assess the potential losses of life and property. The assessment considers the built environment, including the type and numbers of existing and future buildings, infrastructure, and critical facilities located in or near identified hazard areas.
Mitigation Strategy – Based on the risk assessment, communities develop mitigation goals and objectives, as part of a strategy for mitigating disaster losses. The strategy is a community’s approach for implementing mitigation activities that are cost-effective, technically feasible, and environmentally sound as well as allowing strategic investment of limited resources.
Benefits of Mitigation Planning:
- Increases public awareness and understanding of vulnerabilities as well as support for specific actions to reduce losses from future natural disasters. Builds partnerships with diverse stakeholders, thereby maximizing opportunities to leverage data and resources, which can help reduce workloads and achieve shared community objectives. For example, managing floodplain development may not only reduce flood losses, but also protect water quality by restoring natural functions.
- Expands understanding of potential risk reduction measures to include structural and regulatory tools, where available, such as ordinances and building codes. Implementation of local floodplain ordinances prevents an estimated $1.1 billion in flood damages annually. Informs development, prioritization, and implementation of mitigation projects. Benefits accrue over the life of the project as losses are avoided from each subsequent hazard event.