As disasters become more frequent and intensify as a result of climate change, hazard mitigation planning is more important than ever. It can help a community break the cycle of disaster damage and reconstruction.
FEMA is focusing on hazard mitigation planning as we join community planners around the country and the American Planning Association in recognizing National Community Planning Month this October. The month highlights the importance of planning in creating safe, resilient and equitable communities.
During October, FEMA encouraged communities across the nation to evaluate their hazard mitigation plans. When a community weaves in mitigation planning with other local decisions, it creates effective risk reduction and hazard mitigation. This planning helps a community consider both where and how we build. For example, they can determine “where” by considering natural hazards and proper land-use planning and implement the “how” by adopting stronger building codes.
Planners can also encourage creative design proposals that avoid or minimize exposure to hazards through regulations like subdivision regulation or protect citizens from natural hazards through safe growth principles and nature-based solutions. All of these efforts help to create safer, more sustainable neighborhoods.
Having a FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan is a requirement for eligibility for certain non-emergency FEMA grants and federal money may be available to help communities update their plan.
FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program provides grant opportunities to help communities develop these hazard mitigation plans. Your community can apply for the Fiscal Year 2021 grant cycle online. The application period is open until Jan. 28, 2022. Be sure to confirm deadline requirements with your state.
BRIC’s guiding principles have been revised to reduce future losses and promote equity. To align with the administration’s Justice40 Initiative, FEMA is prioritizing assistance that benefits disadvantaged communities as referenced in Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.
It's important to recognize that planning has also been used as a tool to exclude populations, exacerbate inequity and expose some populations at higher risk than others. Keeping equity and inclusion in mind is especially important for hazard mitigation planning and should be considered throughout the planning process.
Good hazard mitigation planning is a partnership process. When communities, businesses, and governments work together, risk is better understood, and better decision making is possible. The mitigation planning process presents an ideal opportunity to bring the right people to the table as equal partners to address resiliency and equity concerns within a community.
For more information about FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Planning, visit Hazard Mitigation Planning | FEMA.gov
For more information about National Community Planning Month, visit www.planning.org/ncpm.