National Hurricane Program

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The National Hurricane Program (NHP) helps protect communities and residents from hurricane hazards through various projects and activities. Established in 1985, the NHP also conducts assessments and provides tools and technical assistance to State and local agencies in developing hurricane evacuation plans.

The program is a multi-agency partnership involving numerous Federal agencies, including:

The NHP receives $5.86 million in annual funding, which consists of $2.91 million for FEMA program activities and $2.95 million for the Emergency Management Performance Grant program. These funds are directed into general State funds for hurricane preparedness and mitigation activities.

Planning for Safe and Effective Evacuations

The National Hurricane Program (NHP) conducts Hurricane Evacuation Studies (HES) that guide the decision-making process for protecting the public when a hurricane threatens an area.

These studies help State and local communities establish evacuation plans by determining:

  • The probable effects of a hurricane
  • Predicting public response to the threat and advisories
  • Identifying appropriate shelters.

Specifically, NHP conducts hazard and vulnerability analyses for coastal communities considering different types of storm threats. This includes:

  • Assessment of storm surge and wind impacts
  • Existing road and other transportation systems
  • Population (e.g., demographics, behavior analysis)
  • Shelters

This information helps officials determine where individuals are most likely to go when evacuating from a storm.

The NHP assists coastal communities by developing evacuation zones, which helps determine where and when the public should be ordered to evacuate as a storm approaches. This recommendation is negotiated among decision-makers within each community.

Once the evacuation zones are established, the NHP provides each community with corresponding evacuation maps and suggested clearance times for the various types of storm categories. The communities determine how to utilize these tools and recommendations, in developing their evacuation plans.

National Hurricane Program Training

The NHP is constantly striving to educate citizens and decision-making officials by producing cutting edge preparedness, awareness, educational publications, and decision assistance tools that address hurricane hazards and issues. Partnering agencies provide multiple training opportunities, various multi-media awareness publications for the emergency management community and the general population in order to support the program's vision of “A Nation Prepared- protecting human life and property from the hazards of hurricanes and tropical systems.”

For more information concerning Independent study and classroom training opportunities please visit the Emergency Management Institute.

Aiding Response and Recovery

The NHP designed various software and programs along with activating liaison teams to assist the National Hurricane Center with communicating forecasts and warnings to Federal, state, and local governments. To provide better service to the Emergency Management community the National Hurricane Program also conducts post-storm assessments of their programs.

The Hurricane Liaison Team (HLT) is a cadre of Federal, State, and local emergency managers with hurricane preparedness experience. As tropical systems threaten the U.S., the HLT:

  • Deploys to the National Hurricane Center to assist in the coordination efforts between the NHC and Federal, State and local emergency managers threatened by these systems.
  • Provides immediate and critical storm information for use by decision makers so that all levels of government can make competent and informed decisions.
  • During significant hurricane threats the HLT website will provide updated hurricane forecasts and graphics to be used by government officials.

The Evacuation Liaison Team (ELT) is made up of emergency management and transportation specialists that facilitate the coordination and sharing of information between state jurisdictions during multi-state hurricane evacuations.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is the lead agency with support from FEMA. The ELT plays an important role by:

  • Serving as an information clearinghouse and communication link between Federal and state emergency management, highway patrol and transportation officials.
  • Being primarily activated for storm events threatening the Gulf of Mexico and southeastern United States.
  • Gathering and analyzing vital information, such as the status of evacuation routes; traffic patterns; problem areas; shelter, and gas availability; and emergency messages and instructions.

The USDOT and FEMA utilize the Evacuation Transportation Information System (ETIS) tool to better forecast and plan traffic congestion during multi-state evacuations.

Post-Storm Assessments

Post-Storm Assessments have been conducted by FEMA and the USACE since 1985 after significant landfalling hurricanes, and serve as an avenue for the NHP to verify product accuracy and data provided to emergency management. These assessments are used as the basis to refine and improve existing State and local hurricane response and evacuation plans and often identify new problem areas created by hurricane impacts and expose operational decision-making needs and resource shortfalls. Such studies greatly enhance the impacted decision maker's capability to respond to future land falling tropical systems.

NOAA Coastal Services Center Post Storm Assessments

US Army Corp of Engineers Post Storm Assessments

The National Hurricane Program also manages other decision assistance tools available to Emergency Managers.

  • To evaluate the threat from storm surge the SLOSH model is used.
  • For aid in evacuation timing and hazards during a Hurricane threat the HURREVAC program provides county specific guidance.

Mitigating Against Hurricane Losses

Mitigation against hurricane losses can lessen the impacts these powerful storms have on people's lives and property through damage prevention and proper insurance. Through measures such as building safely within hurricane vulnerable areas and creating and enforcing effective building codes,the impact on lives and communities is greatly reduced.

NHP activities include:

  • Assessing building performance after significant hurricanes and coastal storms
  • Developing designs for hazard resistant construction in new buildings
  • Developing designs and retrofitting techniques for existing buildings
  • Recommending improvements in state and local regulatory programs

The NHP also assists States and local emergency managers to better understand potential damage from hurricanes by providing the HAZUS MH loss estimation tool.

Related Mitigation Links and Resources

Last Updated: 
07/24/2014 - 16:00
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