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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.

CATAHOULA PARISH, LA – Catahoula Parish has had a tumultuous relationship with the Ouachita and Black Rivers as these rivers are prone to high-velocity flooding. Soil erosion occurs naturally, but certain factors such as water and wind can accelerate, and worsen, its effects.

GARLAND, NC - The Williams' home had experienced two episodes of flooding due to hurricanes. In 1984 flood waters entered the house soaking duct work, all flooring and carpets as well as damaging utilities and appliances. The family was displaced from their home for two months.

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.

NORMAN COUNTY, MN - The repetitive flooding of the Red River Valley has caused Norman County residents and local government officials to place a high priority on flood protection. Partnerships were formed to provide solutions to keep farmers in business and communities viable.

HIRAM, ME - One of Maine’s most pristine rivers, the Saco River, runs through the bucolic region of southwestern Maine. Bisected by the Saco River is the small Maine village of Hiram. Here, alongside the Saco runs River Road and its long history of flooding.

OCEAN COUNTY, NJ – Fred Harvey and his wife, Cecilia, were on vacation when Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy struck New Jersey causing severe damage along the coast. While viewing a news story of the storm, they realized they were viewing the damage to their neighborhood in Holgate, New Jersey.

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, FL - Khalid Resheidat is a civil engineer for the City of New Smyrna Beach. His responsibilities include oversight of the city’s floodplain management issues, including a list of repetitive loss properties, or properties that had been repeatedly damaged from flooding.

REDLANDS, CA - The Redlands Unified School District has a year-round campus program resulting in virtually continuous high occupancy and use of all school facilities. The district has 21 buildings. Of these, 19 are schools and offices, and two are for support services.

REDLANDS, CA - Residents of the urban-wildland interface, an area encompassing more than a third of the City of Redlands, have a place to go where they can learn how to modify vegetation at their homes and use fire-resistant materials to make their homes fire safe.

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.

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

Last updated January 19, 2021