WARWICK, R.I. -- Town officials in Johnston, R.I., hit the ground running in an effort to develop a hazard mitigation plan that will make the town more disaster-resilient.
Mitigation planners from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) met with Johnston’s fire, planning and public works department officials and residents at a public meeting, held July 13, 2010, to discuss the town’s Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan.
All cities and towns in Rhode Island are required under federal law to make comprehensive updates to their plan every five years.
Johnston officials discussed strategies for reducing risk from natural disasters, filtered thoughts from the public, and gained knowledge about the next step needed toward submitting their plan for approval.
A well thought-out plan is required for a community’s eligibility for hazard mitigation programs, including FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM), Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) and Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).
Approval of a community’s mitigation plan also enables the community to gain credit under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS), an incentive program that encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed NFIP requirements. Communities receive discounted premium rates if they meet three CRS goals: reducing flood losses, facilitating an accurate insurance rating, and promoting the awareness of flood insurance.
The meeting with Johnston was one of the many meetings FEMA mitigation planners have participated in with Rhode Island jurisdictions.
“Hazard mitigation makes communities more disaster-resilient and having a hazard mitigation plan in place provides the strategies necessary to prevent or minimize loss of life and property,” said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Craig A. Gilbert.
When analyzing plans submitted for review across the nation, FEMA mitigation planners identified four processes that are areas of concern in mitigation plans: planning process, mitigation strategy, risk assessment and plan maintenance.
- Planning process—the community is required to document how the public—including neighboring communities, agencies and businesses—was involved in the planning process.
- Mitigation strategy—inclusion of new, completed, deleted or deferred mitigation actions as a benchmark for progress and, if activities are unchanged, why no changes were made.
- Risk assessment—includes identifying and profiling hazards and assessing vulnerabilities.
- Plan maintenance—requires a description on how the community was kept involved during the plan maintenance process and how the plan was implemented.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.