Main Content

Hazard Mitigation Planning Frequently Asked Questions

This page has Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on hazard mitigation planning.

What is the Stafford Act?

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, as amended by the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, is the legal basis for State, Tribal, and local governments to take risk-based approaches to reduce natural hazard risks through mitigation planning.

The Stafford Act requires State, Tribal, and local governments to develop and adopt FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plans in order to receive certain types of non-emergency disaster assistance. It also authorized the following grant programs: Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program (PDM), Public Assistance Grant Program (PA), and the Fire Management Assistance Grant Program (FMAG).

What is mitigation?

Mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters. Mitigation is taking action now—by analyzing, reducing, or insuring against risk—to reduce impacts of future disasters. Mitigation requires an understanding of local risks and current capabilities and a commitment to investing in long-term community well-being.

What is hazard mitigation planning? What is a hazard mitigation plan?

Hazard mitigation planning is a process that State, Tribal, and local governments use to identify risks and vulnerabilities with natural hazards (e.g., hurricanes, tornados, floods). It develops long-term strategies for protecting people and property from future hazard events.

A hazard mitigation plan reviews the current and possible risks and the community capabilities for a geographic area. It then assigns long-term mitigation strategies to address vulnerabilities. Developed with community stakeholders and public input, State, Tribal, and local governments use these plans to help prevent repeated damage.

Why develop and adopt a FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan?

Developing hazard mitigation plans help State, Tribal, and local governments to:

  • Increase education and awareness on natural hazards, their impacts, and community vulnerabilities;
  • Build partnerships with government, organizations, businesses, and the public to reduce risk;
  • Identify long-term strategies for risk reduction with input from stakeholders and the public;
  • Identify cost-effective mitigation actions that focus resources on the greatest risks areas;
  • Integrate planning efforts and risk reduction with other community planning efforts;
  • Align risk reduction with other State, Tribal, or community objectives; and
  • Communicate priorities to potential funders.

Mitigation planning is most powerful when it is combined with other planning processes, regulations, policies, and decisions.

What are the Plan Review Guides?

The State, Tribal, and Local Mitigation Plan Review Guides are FEMA’s policy and official interpretation of the hazard mitigation planning requirements in Title 44 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 201 for State, Tribal, and local governments. FEMA and State (when applicable) reviewers use these guides to routinely evaluate and approve mitigation plans.

I heard the mitigation planning policies are being updated. When is that happening, and why?

The Mitigation Planning Program is set to update the State and Local Mitigation Plan Review Guides in 2020. They will be updated to reflect recent legislative changes, policy updates, feedback from States and the public, and other factors. The regulations are not changing.

Sign up for the Mitigation Planning GovDelivery to stay up-to-date and be notified when feedback collection begins. FEMA is also planning a listening session during the 2020 Hazard Mitigation Partners Workshop at the Emergency Management Institute in late March.

What does my plan have to do with funding?

FEMA requires State, Tribal, and local governments to develop and adopt hazard mitigation plans in order to receive certain types of non-emergency disaster assistance, including funding for mitigation projects.

Jurisdictions must update their hazard mitigation plans and resubmit them for FEMA approval every five years to maintain eligibility. Visit the Hazard Mitigation Plan Requirement page for more information on the mitigation plan requirements.

How does hazard mitigation planning support community resilience?

Resilience is the ability of individuals, communities, businesses, institutions, and governments to adapt to changing conditions and prepare for, withstand, and recover from disruptions to everyday life, such as hazard events.

Hazard mitigation planning is the basis of community resilience. It encourages the development of a long-term mitigation strategy. By going through the planning process, communities think about their potential risks and develop mitigation actions before a disaster has occurred. This makes it easier to recover from future events.

I’m new here. Where can I find basic information about mitigation planning?

Every mitigation plan includes a planning process, an assessment of natural hazard risk and impacts, and a mitigation strategy.

If you are new to mitigation planning, visit the Mitigation Planning Program Resource List. This list includes basic information and has resources for understanding mitigation planning, developing and implementing a mitigation plan, and connecting mitigation planning to other community efforts.

I’m ready to write or update my plan. What should I look at first?

FEMA is committed to helping State, Tribal, and local partners build their capabilities, plan, and mitigate natural hazard risks. Below are resources for each type of plan:

  • Local Mitigation Planning Handbook: the official guide for local governments to develop, update, and implement local mitigation plans. It offers practical approaches, tools, worksheets, and local mitigation planning examples.
  • Tribal Mitigation Planning Handbook: a handbook for Tribal governments as they develop their hazard mitigation plan with practical approaches and a step-by-step process.
  • State Mitigation Planning Key Topics Bulletins: brief documents that contain guidance for States in complying with FEMA’s mitigation planning regulatory and policy requirements.

All of these resources are available on the Mitigation Planning Resources page.

I need more help. Where do I go?

Visit the Hazard Mitigation Planning Training page. This page connects you to self-study and in-person trainings to help you learn more about mitigation planning and developing a mitigation plan.  

Local planners are encouraged to contact their State Hazard Mitigation Officer for guidance. State, Tribal, and local officials can contact the Lead Mitigation Planner in the Mitigation Division of their FEMA Regional Office. Tribal officials can also contact their Regional Tribal Liaison.

Why is it important to include future climate and weather patterns in my plan?

When developing a long-term hazard mitigation strategy, it is crucial to understand the likelihood of future events, including changing future conditions. After all, disaster risk changes over time and will continue to change. Communities that plan for future conditions are more likely to quickly recover from severe events and can preserve their community for years to come.

FEMA’s mitigation planning policies state that State and Tribal governments must consider future climate and weather patterns when assessing the probability of future hazard events.

Local hazard mitigation plans must address the probability of future hazard events.  Long-term changes in weather and climate are not required in local plans but recommended in order to understand future risks. Including long-term changes will also help track related and compounded effects.  

What is an enhanced State or Tribal Plan?

Enhanced status is an incentive FEMA provides for State and Tribal governments. It demonstrates they have developed a comprehensive mitigation program and can manage increased funding to achieve their mitigation goals.

Following a disaster declaration, enhanced States and Tribes can receive increased funding through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). There are currently 11 States with enhanced plans; no Tribal governments currently have enhanced plans. You can check the status of a plan anytime on the Plan Status page.

What is Program Administration by States (PAS)?

Program Administration by States (PAS) is a program for FEMA to delegate local hazard mitigation plan review and approval to designated States. FEMA can also delegate traditional grant management responsibilities, such as reviewing project applications or completing Benefit-Cost Analyses for projects. The program’s intent is to give States increased control and oversight of their hazard mitigation projects and plans.

PAS States are listed on the Plan Status page. For more information on PAS, view the PAS Guidance on-line or contact your FEMA Regional Office.

Last Updated: 
02/26/2020 - 13:52