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Long-term Dedication to Reducing Risks

Challenges

The Lummi Nation’s hazard mitigation planning began with the 2001 Flood Damage Reduction Plan. The Nation developed the plan to address ongoing flooding that turns a large portion of the Reservation, the Lummi Peninsula, into an island. The Nation formed a Multi-Hazard Mitigation Team to create a comprehensive and integrated plan that increases access to potential project funding. Over the last 2 decades, the Lummi Nation has experienced gaps in funding and resources to complete certain large-scale projects. Despite the gaps, the Lummi Nation continues to regularly review, update and implement their FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan.

Solution

The Lummi Nation’s hazard mitigation plan was the first FEMA-approved tribal plan in the country. It has been updated several times since being adopted in 2004.

The Lummi Nation’s Multi-Hazard Mitigation Team meets several times a year to review all hazard risks, coordinate with FEMA and other emergency management partners, check on the status of ongoing mitigation activities and update the plan. These efforts make the plan a living document that is used on a regular basis.

The plan describes how the tribe’s mitigation team has completed each update. Records allow the Lummi Nation to identify what worked well and determine how to enhance the plan in the future.

The plan profiles 10 hazards all of which have mitigation actions to address potential vulnerabilities. Since the first adopted mitigation plan, the following are examples of mitigation projects:

  • Slater Road: In 2005, the Lummi Nation received a FEMA grant to elevate 1 mile of Slater Road, including a bridge, to provide continued access during a flood. However, after the engineering and design was completed, the cost estimates were higher than planned. The Lummi Nation and Whatcom County could not find enough additional funding and had to return the grant. The Lummi Nation continues to work with Whatcom County to update a comprehensive flood plan. The plan includes modeling necessary to design and implement the Slater Road project.
  • Tsunami Sirens: To address the tsunami hazard, the Nation has installed three All-Hazard Alert Broadcast sirens on the Reservation since 2006. A fourth is planned for the spring of 2021 along with evacuation route signs. They also developed an evacuation route brochure distributed it to all Reservation residents.
Tide gate installed on Marine Drive/

Marine Drive Elevation: Because Marine Drive was vulnerable to frequent flooding, the Nation elevated a section of it in 2011 and added a box culvert. They also added a tide gate to keep a water passage for salmon.

The Lummi Nation has been a member of the National Flood Insurance Program since 2004. In 2010, they joined the Community Rating System. By voluntarily participating in this FEMA program and implementing certain hazard mitigation actions, a community can reduce flood insurance premiums for policyholders. By 2013, the Lummi Nation qualified with the program for a 15% discount for homeowners and businesses policyholders.

As projects have been completed, the overall priorities of the plan have shifted. This has led the Lummi Nation to expand outreach in the hazard mitigation planning process. The first hazard mitigation plan primarily focused on the local business community and involved the Lummi Indian Business Council and its associated commissions. In the next version, it grew to include Northwest Indian College. The 2020 plan asked the broader tribal community for feedback and used new channels of communication through social media.

Key Takeaways

  1. Hazard mitigation is a long-term effort. Recording mitigation successes and challenges allows a community to learn from their experiences and celebrate their progress, even over many years.
  2. The Lummi Nation’s ongoing commitment to hazard mitigation has made their community more resilient. A full record of changes in the mitigation plan provides context for how the community’s priorities for reducing risk have changed and evolved over time.
  3. Community outreach has continued to grow and evolve during each planning cycle.

Related Documents and Links

To learn more about funding eligible projects, review the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program and the new pre-disaster mitigation program, Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities. A FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan is required for funding under these programs.

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Last updated April 22, 2021