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Tulsa, Oklahoma, has a long history with flood-related disasters and hazard mitigation planning. Decades ago, a George Washington University study identified Tulsa as the most frequently flooded city in the United States.
Bourne, Massachusetts, is the gateway to other Cape Cod towns. It spans the Cape Cod Canal and has 55 miles of coastline. It uniquely faces Cape Cod Bay to the northeast and Buzzards Bay to the west. The town faces many risks and vulnerabilities from coastal flooding, erosion and severe storms. Water quality is also a serious concern for the town estuaries.
The Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has seen the recent impacts from flooding events on their wild rice which are a cultural and important natural resource for the tribe. The tribe has invested in several planning efforts over the years to help mitigate/reduce the flooding risks to the wild rice lakes. Recently, the Grand Portage Ojibwe people reached out to Cook County, Minnesota and collaborated with other neighboring tribes to integrate their hazard mitigation, wetland and climate adaptation plans.
In 2017, Santa Rosa was ravaged by the Tubbs Fire, part of a series of fast-moving wildfires that spread across Northern California. To better plan for and reduce the risk of future wildfires, the city decided to integrate its community wildfire protection plan and local hazard mitigation plan. The community wildfire protection plan annex builds on the local mitigation plan by providing more detailed, site-specific wildfire assessments and an action plan for mitigating wildfire risk. The city developed the plan through collaborating with local and state officials, private stakeholders and federal agencies.
The city of Nashua used the hazard mitigation planning process to launch a larger effort focused on long-term community resilience. The Resilient Nashua Initiative used city staff across all aspects of government, from public works to public health to the conservation commission. The city also partnered with other organizations.
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.