October is National Community Planning Month, where we highlight the importance of mitigation planning in everyday life.
Planning is the best step state, local, tribal and territorial governments can take to build a safer tomorrow. It helps us assess natural hazard risk in their communities and understand how it is changing. Planning also allows us to craft an equitable process that builds long-term, risk informed plans.
There are three important things to include in current planning guidance: equity, land use, and climate change data. To help make sure these are included in planning efforts, FEMA released the State and Local Mitigation Planning Policy Guides earlier this year, which take effect on April 19, 2023.
By leading with equity, mitigation planners and partners can form strategies that reflect the needs of the whole community and make sure these needs are met and resources are equitably shared. Inclusive planning processes take time and thought – all interests and voices must have a chance to take part in the planning and have the opportunity to act to reduce risks to future natural hazards.
Careful land use planning can also lead to long-term risk reduction and increased resilience. Our landscapes are shaped by where, how and what we build. One of the strongest measures communities can take is to develop a land use strategy that considers mitigation.
Land use strategies work best when they are championed by the community. All voices of the community must buy into the overall land use vision, the desired end uses, and resulting execution strategy.
Climate Change Data
Climate change data plays a vital role in planning. Evolving environmental hazards bring more intense storms, floods, and temperatures to places and people who have suffered in the past. These hazards now pose new threats to communities across the nation.
It is important for emergency managers at all levels of government to understand the risks and make a plan to reduce those risks. Consult with partners who have expertise in climate change and climate adaptation to select and use climate projection data to understand the risk. This can include the state climatologist, academic partners, or a state department responsible for climate planning.
FEMA offers funding options to undertake hazard mitigation projects that directly address future risk. Local governments can work with their State Hazard Mitigation Officer to identify the funding program that will best meet their mitigation planning and project needs. Tribal governments can work with their State Hazard Mitigation Officer or directly with FEMA.
Some of these available grants include:
- Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) BRIC is a competitive process that provides non-disaster-related funding to states, local communities, tribes and territories. BRIC funds target large-scale planning, and infrastructure projects that will help communities meet their critical mitigation needs. Applications are open now through January 27, 2023. For more information: Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities
- Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) HMPG provides funding to state, local, tribal and territorial governments so they can develop hazard mitigation plans and rebuild in a way that reduces, or mitigates, future disaster losses in their communities. When requested by an authorized representative, this grant funding is available after a presidentially declared disaster. For more information: Hazard Mitigation Grant Program
- Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) FMA funds are meant to support a variety of planning and project types. These include property acquisition, structural elevations, and green space conversions. They also help mitigate severe repetitive loss and repetitive loss structures insured by the National Flood Insurance Program. For more information: Flood Mitigation Assistance Grant
- Safeguarding Tomorrow Through Ongoing Risk Mitigation (STORM) This new revolving loan fund became law on Jan. 1, 2022. STORM is a capital loan program, similar to the Clean Water Act revolving loan fund, that allows grant recipients to provide loans for zoning and land-use planning. Communities must contribute funds to be eligible; they will receive a reduced interest rate to undertake projects. Interested communities should consult their State Hazard Mitigation Officer about upcoming training and webinars. For more information: Safeguarding Tomorrow Revolving Loan Fund Program
You can find more information on these grants by visiting FEMA’s Mitigation Planning and Grants.
The whole community benefits when mitigation plans stress equity, land use planning, and climate change considerations. Additionally, when these plans include the expertise of stakeholders, community members and experts, who help consider these three factors, it creates stronger plans that are critical to reducing risk. These partnerships allow for mitigation plans that are more comprehensive, effective, and action-oriented than ever before. Together, we can create a more resilient tomorrow by planning today.