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National Risk Index Overview

The National Risk Index is easy to use and can be levered to support community prioritization of resilience efforts by providing an at-a-glance overview of multiple natural hazard risk factors.

The National Risk Index is accessible to anyone interested in mitigation or understanding the natural hazard risk in a community. This includes:

  • Public Employees
  • Local Officials
  • Community Planners
  • Academia
  • Homeowners and Renters
  • Research Institutions
  • Property Owners
  • Insurance Community
  • Real Estate Professionals

Using the National Risk Index to Support Resilience

Mitigation Planning

Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants

Risk Communications

Mitigation Planning

Hazard mitigation plans help communities reduce the effects of future disasters on lives, property and the economy. As a mapping application, the National Risk Index helps communities before and during the planning process by illustrating which natural hazards pose a risk, and the community’s current level of resilience. It can also inform community outreach during the mitigation and community planning process.

Approved FEMA hazard mitigation require a risk assessment that describes each hazard identified by the community in terms of location, potential magnitude, past events, and future probability. The plan must also describe each hazard’s impacts on the community.

When writing a hazard mitigation plan, the natural hazard risk data helps communities meet certain requirements by providing efficient, standardized risk assessment methodology, free interactive web maps and geographic information system (GIS) feature services.

The National Risk Index incorporates physical and social vulnerability data to identify communities more at-risk to the adverse impacts of natural hazards. The NRI alone does not generate the risk assessment portion of the plan, but it supports its development with high quality, comprehensive data that can specifically be applied to mitigation plan requirements for Elements B1 and B3.

Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grant Applications

Creating and submitting a project application for a Hazard Mitigation Assistance grants require access to accurate, current, relevant, and comprehensive natural hazard risk data. That data can often be spread across many agencies, websites, and levels of government. The National Risk Index displays high-quality risk and resilience information from a variety of resources that can be included Hazard Mitigation Assistance project grant applications and subapplications.

In addition, the National Risk Index data is supporting document for Hazard Mitigation Assistance grants. A baseline relative risk measurement is calculated for each United States county and census tract. Specific natural hazard data at county levels can be retrieved for the following:

  • Expected annual loss in dollars
  • Frequency/Probability of event (hazard dependent)
  • Exposed population in dollars

This data can support multi-jurisdictional projects and be applied to large-scale infrastructure projects across all Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant programs. The National Risk Index maps and graphics clearly illustrate risk and can help build the case for a mitigation project and support the benefit costs analysis information.

Risk Communications

Communicating potential risks can be challenging. It can be hard for communities to visualize how a disaster that has not happened will affect a neighborhood or business. Even when communities are aware of the natural hazards risk, they is still gaps on communities taking the necessary preparatory actions.

Risk communication can help bridge the gap between awareness and action by identifying and resolving barriers to understanding risk. It helps local officials and planners strategically communicate natural hazard risk to specific audiences and supports mitigation actions.

This interactive mapping application is a natural hazard risk communication tool.  As a tool, it helps illustrate how communities may be affected by different natural hazards and how specific factors, such as community resilience and social vulnerability, affect these risks. The National Risk Index supports risk communication by providing data or proof points that to create and share messages about natural hazard risk. As data is available at both the county and census tract scale, it provides a granular identification of risk which can be useful in localized messages.

Last updated May 14, 2021