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Mitigation Best Practices

Mitigation Best Practices are stories, articles or case studies about individuals, businesses or communities that undertook successful efforts to reduce or eliminate disaster risks.

They demonstrate that disaster preparedness decreases repetitive losses, financial hardship and loss of life.

FEMA seeks to inspire and educate citizens to consider mitigation options by highlighting proven practices implemented by others in their homes and communities. It is our hope that visitors to this library find relatable and informative techniques to reduce their risk and eliminate hazards.

Explore mitigation planning examples on the Mitigation Planning Success Stories story map. It highlights success stories on plan implementation, plan integration, outreach, engagement and equity. If you have a success story worth sharing, please email us.

City of New York, New York - Hazard mitigation plans (HMPs) are often dense, technical documents that can be hundreds of pages. New York City was one of the first communities in the country to convert its plan content into a web-based, living document. New York City Emergency Management (NYCEM) led the effort to replace the 500-page printed mitigation plan with an interactive and visually appealing website that has user-friendly tabs to communicate risk and promote mitigation investments.
WASHINGTON D.C. AND IOWA - State Program Consultations - Every year, FEMA and a state or territory work together to find ways to advance mitigation programs during an annual mitigation program consultation meeting. When successful, these touchpoints strengthen communication, relationships and mitigation outcomes. Below are how Washington, D.C. and the state of Iowa approached these meetings to better engage partners and attendees.
LOWER PLATTE SOUTH, NE - Hazard mitigation plans are often difficult for communities to actively implement because of financial constraints. Funding for mitigation projects can be difficult to secure, especially for expensive infrastructure which requires both design and construction. Working together on mitigation projects is a way communities can share and reduce project costs, though getting those connections in place is a challenge all its own.
MANITOU SPRINGS, CO - After a close call with the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012 and subsequent flooding and debris flow in 2013, the City of Manitou Springs, Colorado realized that it needed to take a more proactive approach to preserve its historic structures and unique natural assets. This small community relies heavily on year-round tourism, but its location and environmental conditions make it vulnerable to natural hazards. These include steep topography, loose soils, multiple creeks and natural drainage channels, and proximity to forested open space.
BALTIMORE, MD - The city of Baltimore, Maryland has found itself increasingly at risk from harmful levels of snow and rain, heat waves and sea level rise. A historic port city, Baltimore is also vulnerable to the effects of climate change. As its population grows, keeping everyone safe is more of a priority than ever. Hazard mitigation is often separate from other planning efforts, but there is an increasing need to consider it at the same time as other planning and development efforts.
FRANKLIN, PA - Hazard mitigation plans are guides for reducing risk. However, communities often lack the resources to put their plans into action because of low staff capacity, financial resources, or a lack of existing relationships. Franklin County, Pennsylvania faces these challenges and more as they grapple with urban and rural communities, and both a mountainous and agricultural landscape.
MARSHFIELD, MA - The town of Marshfield, Massachusetts, is a coastal community with rivers and wetlands. About 40% of the buildings in town are in Special Flood Hazard Areas along the coast. The town has experienced large flood events, including a seawall breach in 2015 during Winter Storm Juno. High risk and high flood insurance costs prompted town officials to better plan for disasters to help their residents.
PORTLAND, OR - Oregon residents still remember the devastating 1948 Vanport flood, when 19,000 people were left homeless, disproportionately families of color. Recent planning efforts set out to ensure that history won’t repeat itself. The 2012 “Portland Plan, a Strategic Roadmap for the City”, contains a vision for equity that all city bureaus and offices are responsible for pursuing. This vision required a fresh look at the “2010 Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan” to work toward a future where vulnerable populations do not carry disproportionate burdens when recovering from natural disasters.
SNOHOMISH CO, WA - To qualify for disaster-related federal grants under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Snohomish County needs to maintain and update their Hazard Mitigation Plan. The plan covers several jurisdictions. Naturally there are some competing interests, potential for duplication of efforts, and different timing requirements involved with this process.
NEW YORK - Since early 2011, FEMA has been working closely with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), county and local government agencies, and local non-profit organizations to identify, assess, and reduce flood risk in six watersheds west of the Hudson River in New York State.

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - On May 9, 2003, tornados swooped across Oklahoma City’s “Tornado Alley.” The tornados path was virtually the same as the one that struck 4 years prior. Oklahoma has historically been subject to destructive and deadly tornados and high winds.

MILLER’S ISLAND, MD - As Hurricane Isabel traveled up the Chesapeake Bay, the Peytons sat on their deck and watched the water rise, higher and higher towards their elevated home. They invited Carol’s parents to come from their home next door to watch the storm.

CHEHALIS, WA - Karen McGhee and her husband Terry have rented multiple homes in the City of Chehalis, Washington over the years. In 1990, they sat in their hilltop house and watched as floodwaters rose throughout the town below them.

ARNOLD, MO - The City of Arnold (pop. 20,082) is a thriving, prosperous community located just 20 miles south of St. Louis where the Meramec River joins the Mississippi. The Meramec, flowing south, forms the eastern border of the city.

SAN LEON, TX  - Before starting construction of their waterfront home in San Leon, Texas, George and Diana Click spent time researching safe building practices.

MISSISSIPPI - Repetitive loss sites have been prevalent in several flood prone counties across the State.

CAÑON CITY, CO – Cañon City officials completed an acquisition project after being motivated by a home that was subject to frequent flooding. The 2011 acquisition was funded by FEMA’s repetitive flood claims program.

ALBANY, NY – Repairs to Mallet Hill Road in the Town of Stratford, Fulton County, damaged during the June 2006 flooding were designed to a higher standard. Using the higher standard may have made them less vulnerable to future flooding.

ROSEVILLE, CA – The City of Roseville in Placer County, California, has experienced repetitive flooding in 1986, 1995, and 1997 from several small creeks.

CONECUH COUNTY, AL – Conecuh County Engineer, Winston Foshee, knew that without preventive action the County was facing the potential for failure of seven bridges.

Last updated January 19, 2021