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Santa Rosa, California In 2017, Santa Rosa was ravaged by the Tubbs Fire, part of a series of fast-moving wildfires that spread across Northern California.
Multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation planning can be an effective process to build partnerships between communities that face common hazard risks, leading to shared solutions. It can also help build a foundation to shift priorities as risks and vulnerabilities change.
A good hazard mitigation plan assesses a community's risk and prioritizes solutions to address that risk. It is created by community experts with input from various stakeholders including the public-those who live and work in the community.
The purpose of mitigation planning is for state, local, and tribal governments to identify the natural hazards that affect them and develop a mitigation strategy to reduce potential losses from these hazards. Many communities, especially those with limited capacity, struggle to develop and evaluate meaningful mitigation strategies that match their capability and resources to carry out.
Universities are not required to complete hazard mitigation plans. Most do not, instead relying on and participating in their local jurisdiction or county plan. The county hazard mitigation plan covers a broad geographic area and did not have the level of detail needed to take all the university associated risks into account. East Tennessee State University (ETSU) is like a small city with unique risks and vulnerabilities, which are spread out among several smaller ancillary campuses in different jurisdictions. Andrew Worley, the university’s emergency management specialist, explained that “we felt that there were specific needs and concerns about a university campus that may not apply to cities and counties.” For example, the university maintains its own critical facilities, such as its emergency operations center, food services, power plant and telecommunications buildings.
Coastal communities face a range of flooding hazards that include storm surge, waves and erosion—all of which can severely damage homes, businesses and infrastructure. Waves, in particular, can damage properties located farther inland than one would expect. Some communities use the Limit of Moderate Wave Action (LiMWA) to inform the adoption of higher building codes and standards in areas vulnerable to waves.
Santa Cruz is a city of 65,000 people located on Monterey Bay on California’s central coast. The Pacific Ocean lies to the south and the Santa Cruz Mountains border the city to the north. This dynamic landscape makes the city vulnerable to coastal hazards such as storm surge, erosion and flooding, as well as mountain hazards of wildfire and landslide. Like most California municipalities, the city has several plans to address its vulnerability to these hazards.
The Knox County, city of Knoxville and town of Farragut Multi-Jurisdictional Local Hazard Mitigation Plan avoided a one-size-fits-all approach by conducting extensive public outreach and engagement efforts. These Tennessee communities used the planning process itself as an educational tool to help community members learn more about their risks and mitigation efforts.
Lummi Indian Reservation, Washington – 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.