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Hazus Success Stories

The success stories on this page describe mitigation activities or projects that were undertaken with the use of Hazus. A number of stories here also highlight individual or group achievements through the use of Hazus, as well as reports or analyses that benefited from the use of Hazus to capture a community's natural disaster risk. If you would like to submit a success story to be featured on this site, reach out to the Hazus Outreach Team at

Hazus Reports

Hazus Estimated Annualized Earthquake Losses for the United States (2017)

More Comprehensive Flood Information Key to More Reliable Damage Estimates: USGS Study

A study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) looked at how damage estimates grow following a storm, like Hurricane Sandy. This is the first time this analysis for a coastal storm has been done by the agency. For this study, USGS examined counties in New York. Damage costs in New York were estimated at around $23 billion, using FEMA’s Hazus modeling software and census data.

The study looked at building damage estimates at storm landfall, two weeks post storm, and three months later. The largest variance in cost estimates was between the initial estimate and the two-week mark. At the three month review, the estimate was better defined because additional information was available.

This research measured the intensity of Hurricane Sandy through tools like tide gauges, stream gauges, temporary sensors, and high-water marks. Though every storm is different, timing of the storm can make a difference in flood levels. For example, Atlantic Ocean-facing parts of New York City and parts of Long Island saw peak storm surge during high tide which resulted in five to six feet higher storm tide than we would have seen at low tide. 

This research highlights the importance of storm data pre- and post-storm. It proved that additional resolution and accuracy of flood delineations improved damage estimates. These damage estimates help both FEMA and other stakeholders control relief and reconstruction efforts as well as plan ahead for future disasters.

A similar study is currently being conducted in New Jersey. In this study, the USGS is examining the projected flood occurrence of recorded peak storm-tide elevations, comparisons of Sandy to historic coastal storms, the timing of storm surge, and changes in Hazus damage estimates. The study should be completed by the end of 2015.

The new research is available online in Analysis of Storm-Tide Impacts from Hurricane Sandy in New York, SIR 2015-5036, by C.E. Schubert, R. Busciolano, P.P. Hearn Jr., A.N. Rahav, R. Behrens, J. Finkelstein, J. Monti Jr., and A. E. Simonson.

The U.S. and Canada are Mitigating Earthquake Risk through Hazus

Hazus is being used both domestically and internationally to determine the potential impact of earthquakes and other natural disasters. Cities and counties up and down the western United States and Canada are using this software to prepare their communities for the next big earthquake.

Lewis County, Washington is beginning to prepare for what they call the “big one.” Earthquakes there are infrequent, but as more time passes with no rumblings, the possibility of a severe earthquake increases. They are using Hazus software to create a Hazard Mitigation Plan for a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, to provide structural and economic mitigation. The model determined that 2,314 buildings would be considered to have moderate to substantial damage. The county is now taking many preventative actions including making structural improvements to schools and buildings.

In August 2014, Napa Valley experienced a 6.0 earthquake which produced more than $400 million in damages. Inspectors checked for damage and cross-referenced it with Hazus estimates. A post-quake survey revealed that less than one in 10 Napa homeowners have earthquake insurance, something that insurers are trying to resolve.

To predict the devastation that would occur in Vancouver, British Columbia and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada used a modified version of FEMA’s Hazus software. British Columbia chose to model a 7.3 earthquake under the city center to help draft an emergency plan. They chose a scenario with potentially catastrophic impacts that lead to an adaptable plan, stimulated by complaints that British Columbia is not prepared for a disastrous earthquake.

Each of these stories stresses the importance of earthquake preparation and knowledge. More than 143 million Americans in the continental United States are at risk of being exposed to potentially damaging ground movement. Using Hazus, both the United States and Canada were able to mitigate risk. Hazus models demonstrate the economic threat that earthquakes place on all jurisdictions.  The Chair of Natural Hazards at Simon Fraser University, John Clague, stated “the ability to model the effects of an earthquake [is] a powerful tool.” It is particularly powerful for governments to help them in preparing response plans and cost-effectiveness of seismic upgrades. 

Colorado and FEMA Region VIII Host Regional Hazus-MH Course

Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department of Public Safety

The State of Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management offered a free introductory course to Hazus-MH from September 15-18, 2015. Colorado and FEMA Region VIII took the initiative to host local Hazus courses in the field to interested regional users. This is in addition to the various other options available for Hazus users to receive training, including at the Emergency Management Institute in Emmitsburg, Maryland or virtually on the Esri website.

This course will dive into a number of topics including: building and population inventory components, the magnitude and extent of modeled hazards, loss estimation methodologies as well as the opportunity to create maps, tables, and reports that describe hazard impacts. Emphasis is given to understanding Hazus software outputs and how the information supports emergency management objectives and needs.                                                                         

Once the course is completed, participants have the option to take additional Hazus-MH courses on refined loss estimation. This course is given for FEMA Emergency Management Institute (EMI) credit and can count towards Hazus Trained Professional or Hazus Practitioner Certifications.

Florida Hazus User Group Receives Innovation Award for Organization and Data Management

The Florida Hazus User Group (FLHUG) has worked very closely with the Florida Division of Emergency Management and FEMA Region IV to recruit top Geographic Information System (GIS) practitioners from all corners of the state into the FLHUG.

The FLHUG has distinguished itself in several ways. The group has been very focused in setting goals and priorities, and has developed and nurtured a committee structure to carry out its work.

One of the priorities of the FLHUG has been to develop a Hazus data collection and management strategy that would promote consistency and uniformity in Hazus data development.  This spring, the FLHUG sponsored a two-day training session for its members on Comprehensive Data Management for Hazus, and is using this course as a springboard for a long-term strategy to develop a statewide Hazus inventory.

One of the keys to the success of the FLHUG is the active support from the Florida Division of Emergency Management, which is providing key staff to support the FLHUG committees in carrying out their tasks.

Accepting the HUG Innovation Award for Organization and Data Management on behalf of the FLHUG was Rick Burgess, the current president.

Central U.S. Hazus User Group Receives Innovation Award for Training and Outreach

One of the challenges in establishing and sustaining a Hazus-MH User Group (HUG) is to clearly demonstrate to potential members the rewards and benefits of being part of a HUG. The Central U.S. HUG (CHUG) -- under the leadership of The Polis Center in Indiana and member states -- has embarked on a strategy to leverage Hazus-MH training and outreach as a tool for building a strong Hazus constituency in the Midwest.

In 2005, the CHUG formed a Google Group that has greatly facilitated communications and interaction among the membership. With a listserv of over 100 members, the Google Group has become a popular and effective tool for sharing information, projects and initiatives and lessons learned.

Training has become a second hallmark of the CHUG.  The premise is that Hazus training is an excellent way to build awareness and confidence in the Hazus model. With this in mind, The Polis Center has made training a central feature of the CHUG multi-year strategy. 

FEMA Region V and member states, particularly Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin, have been active supporters of the CHUG and deserve credit for the success of this user group.

Accepting the HUG Innovation Award for Training and Outreach on behalf of the CHUG was Kevin Mickey, GSIP, Director, Professional Education and Outreach, The Polis Center.

National Hurricane Center Wins a Best Practices Award for Hazus

One of the themes of the Hazus-MH Users Conference is that Hazus success stories invariably involve partnerships that bring together government, non-government and the research community. The Hurricane Analysis Best Practices award recognizes the contributions of a very important Hazus and FEMA partner – the National Hurricane Center. The National Hurricane Center has played an important role in the development and running of the hurricane model. Hurricane advisories from the National Hurricane Center largely drive the analyses in the hurricane model. The H*Wind research team at the National Hurricane Center, led by Dr. Mark Powell, has worked closely with ARA – the hurricane model developers – to provide estimates of peak gust wind and other wind analyses in the running of Hazus. FEMA wishes to acknowledge the good work of the National Hurricane Center, a true partner in hurricane impact assessment.

Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Uses Hazus for Flood Analysis

At the state level, one of the most ambitious projects using Hazus-Multi Hazard (Hazus-MH) is a statewide study of a 100-year flood that was completed by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. This significant study looked at streams with a drainage area of at least 10 square miles, and used Hazus to compute damages in dollars for total economic loss, building and content damage, and other economic impacts. The products from this study include maps and supporting analysis for the entire state that show the location and extent of potential flood damages in a 100-year flood. The Pennsylvania study has become an important standard for other states to examine in assessing the potential applications of Hazus-MH to support flood risk assessment and mitigation. For more details regarding this study, check out the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency website.

Role of Hazus in Catastrophic Earthquake Planning

The Role of Hazus in Catastrophic Earthquake Planning was among the topics that were explored at a Workshop on Strategic Directions for Seismic Risk Modeling and Decision Support, sponsored by the Mid-America Earthquake Center (MAE).

A paper was prepared and presented by a team from PBS&J in coordination with FEMA that highlights the potential role of Hazus-MH to support catastrophic earthquake, with emphasis on planning for a New Madrid scenario. Among the key findings of the paper:

  • The Nationwide Plan Review: Phase 2 Report (DHS, June 16, 2006) identifies several key gaps in our nation’s catastrophic planning process. The paper highlights the role of Hazus-MH in addressing several shortfalls.

  • Key to using Hazus-MH to support catastrophic planning is the ability to fully integrate the technology and Hazus-MH team into the Planning and Command sections under the National Incident Management System.

  • Hazus-MH can play an important role in planning for a catastrophic earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, including refinement of planning assumptions, scenario development, and loss estimates for key Emergency Support Functions (ESFs).

  • Catastrophic planning can serve as a platform for the development and testing of a web-based data management portal system that would:

  • Identify, prioritize and incorporate new datasets;

  • Lead to the creation of a data management system that would enable users to place default and Level 2 inventory data in existing web-based portals for designated users; and

  • Enable users to download and distribute pre-built study regions to federal, state and local governments to expedite post-earthquake analyses.

Mitigation should be incorporated into the catastrophic planning process, including analyses of losses avoided to essential facilities through mitigation, and assessments of increases in response and recovery capacities as a result of targeted mitigation measures.

Download a copy of the paper: Strategic Directions in Seismic Modeling: HAZUS Development and Current Applications for Catastrophic Planning

Hospitals Use Hazus for Earthquake Analysis

Estimated Hospital Impairment  for an Earthquake Scenario in Newport-Inglewood at a Magnitude of 6.9

After an earthquake, injured victims will look for help at local hospitals, but will the hospitals be in shape to offer assistance? In Southern California, hospitals are getting prepared for a "big one" with a system that uses GIS technology to estimate hospital building damage and related effects on hospital services. In March 2009, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties completed a two-year study that analyzes economic loss; population impact; and damage to essential facilities including fire and police stations, hospitals, and schools.

The study utilized Hazus-MH—loss estimation software based on GIS technology—to calculate estimated physical damage and functional loss from earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes. Two earthquake scenarios provided local decision makers with a more complete understanding of the impact these disasters would have. Area hospital groups were especially interested in using the analysis results to get a better view of which hospital facilities might be damaged and how many and where acute care beds would be available.

Forewarned is to be forearmed," said Christina Bivona-Tellez, regional vice president of the Hospital Association of Southern California. "If we are left standing, do we have the capacity to protect and save lives? Both Riverside and San Bernardino counties are sitting on the San Andreas Fault, and we are overdue for an earthquake." The probability of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake striking the greater Los Angeles area over the next 30 years is 67 percent according to the Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities.

Hazus-MH was developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under contract with the National Institute of Building Sciences. Hazus-MH operates as an extension to ESRI’s ArcGIS ArcView software to map and display region-specific hazard data along with the results of loss and damage assessments. It also uses Microsoft SQL Server to manage the extensive amount of data generated for a given regional loss estimate.

The extension has a number of complex analysis modules that are initiated through the Hazus–ArcGIS graphical user interface. Databases include inventory databases (aggregated to geographic units of either census block or census tract) and site-specific inventory databases, such as essential facilities databases that include hospitals. Analysis modules apply structural engineering and other loss methodologies to estimate damage to structures and infrastructure, the results of which can then be visualized on maps using ArcGIS functionality.

For the hospitals in the recent pilot studies, building-specific inventory data was assembled and imported into Hazus-MH. In the earthquake scenarios, hospital facilities were overlaid onto maps of earthquake shaking, and the software’s structural analysis module determined the probability that each hospital facility would end up in any one of five defined damage states. This damage state distribution was combined with inventory data on licensed acute care hospital beds to produce a damage measurement in terms of bed availability.

Local Data Is Key

Major Southern California Fault Lines

Use of detailed local data is essential to obtaining accurate results in Hazus-MH analysis. For Orange County, Raymond T. Lenaburg, chief, Risk Analysis Branch of FEMA’s Region IX, with Vicki Osborn, assistant emergency manager, Orange County, led a group from the county’s Community Executive Committee (CEC) to compile local data by coordinating input from 114 political subdivisions and 34 incorporated cities in the county.

The two other county CECs provided existing data or helped create new data by collecting information on structures such as date built, type, square footage, replacement costs, and backup power availability. The hospitals’ engineering and environmental services departments also provided detailed information.

Bed Availability Affected

One of the outputs of the Hazus-MH analysis computed an availability of acute care hospital beds for the hospitals. Under the scenario of a 6.9-magnitude earthquake on the Newport-Inglewood Fault, preliminary damage estimates for Orange County indicated that 47 percent of existing hospital beds would be available. Given a 6.6-magnitude earthquake on the San Joaquin Hills Fault, 32 percent of beds would be available.

Making the Most of the Analysis

This study required preparation of accurate inventory databases that can support accurate loss estimate analyses. By developing these databases before a disaster strikes, local communities can produce realistic loss estimates that can be used after a real event until actual loss data can be collected. The counties have now consolidated detailed engineering information about hospital structures and the location of hospital facilities and beds per building. Participating agencies have also established communications and practiced running Hazus-MH before they need it during a real event.

In addition to supporting improved real-time response, the results also support emergency response planning and can be used to establish priorities for hazard mitigation projects. For example, under a magnitude 7.8 earthquake scenario along the southern portion of the San Andreas Fault, analysis showed that San Bernardino County’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) would experience heavy damage (it sits directly on the fault). Based on these results, the county applied for and was awarded a FEMA grant to improve the EOC facility.

More details regarding this story can be found in the Esri Summer Healthy GIS Newsletter.

South Carolina Assists with the Development of a Comprehensive Data Management Web Portal

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division completed Phase 1 of the pilot project to develop a Comprehensive Data Management System (CDMS). A Web Portal that will enable users to upload, download and manage Hazus-MH datasets through the CDMS and to use this enhanced inventory data to perform Hazus-MH analyses. Phase 2 is underway and will involve training and other implementation measures. Download the presentation, CDMS Web Portal Version 1.0: The standardized role-based application to update statewide HAZUS-MH datasets. This PowerPoint presentation describes the process and project in detail.

Potential Applications for Hazus-MH in Natural Hazard Impact Assessment

Natural Hazard Impact Assessment Diagram

In order to assess and mitigate the impacts of a natural hazard such as an earthquake, flood or hurricane, it is necessary to have an understanding of the potential size of an event (hazard identification) and the characteristics of the population and environment that will be impacted (inventory collection).

A unique feature of Hazus-Multi Hazard (Hazus- MH) is the national inventory that comes with the model.  Inventory data includes 1) Essential Facilities: police, fire, emergency operations facilities, schools, medical facilities; 2) Lifelines: utilities and transportation; 3) General Building Stock: residential, commercial, and industrial (aggregated by square footage); and 4) Demographic Data, which can be aggregated by age, income, sex, households and other attributes that have a direct bearing on vulnerability to disasters. The Summary of Hazus-MH Databases  provides a very useful reference for these databases.   

Hazus-MH uses the inventories to estimate losses from earthquakes, hurricanes and floods.  The accuracy of loss estimates are greatly improved by accurate and complete inventories. The Hazus-MH inventory has several potential applications for planners, emergency responders and decision-makers. Several uses are highlighted below.

Hazus-MH Can Delineate the Boundaries of a Hazard and Exposure of Population and Built Environment

Estimated Peak Gust Wind Speeds during Hurricane Katrina

The Hazus-MH hurricane model can estimate wind intensity from specific events, including peak gust wind speeds and maximum sustained winds. The earthquake model shows peak ground acceleration and areas of potential liquefaction. The ability to depict hazard boundaries and hazard intensity (wind speeds, ground shaking) with demographic data provides decision-makers with a good idea of vulnerable populations.

Peak Ground Acceleration in South Carolina

Hazus-MH inventory data (population, essential facilities, general building stock, utility and transportation lifelines) can also be used with the earthquake model to show peak ground acceleration (PGA), an indication of the intensity of an earthquake. In the PGA map of South Carolina from a magnitude 7.2 earthquake, the orange areas (over 0.2 PGA) have a high probability of major damage from ground shaking.

Hazus-MH can show the location of essential facilities and Lifelines (utilities and transportation) and estimate the potential for loss of functionality in scenario events

The ability of a community to respond to a major disaster is determined in large part by the availability (and functionality) of hospitals, emergency services and other essential facilities and lifelines.

Estimated Highway Infrastructure Damage & Hospitals for an Earthquake Scenario in Wasatch Front

In Utah, FEMA and the Utah Division of Homeland Security have used Hazus-MH to assess the potential damages and loss of functionality to highways, hospitals and other key lifelines in scenario earthquakes. This analysis has several important applications for Utah emergency managers. It can be used to:

  • Identify highway bridges and essential facilities – including hospitals – that have a moderate to high probability of failure in different scenario earthquake events.
  • Identify potential shortfalls in hospitals services in scenario earthquakes.
  • Support pre-disaster planning for emergency response, including mutual aid agreements and ESF #8 (Public Health and Medical Services).
  • Support Logistics planning – using the analysis of bridges that are most vulnerable to damaging earthquakes.

Hazus-MH can show the location of unreinforced masonry structures (URMs), by far the most vulnerable structure in earthquakes

Post-disaster studies continue to show that URMs do not perform well in earthquakes, and generate a disproportionate number of casualties from failed structures. The Hazus-MH inventory can be used to show the concentrations of URMs by census tract in moderate to high risk urban areas (e.g., St. Louis, Memphis). This information can be used to identify areas with high probability of casualties; damage and functionality of hospitals in the impacted area; and probability of bridge damage and debris, which will affect accessibility, emergency response and logistics.

Download the full handout version of this story.

The Hazus Flood Information Tool

The Flood Information Tool (FIT), released in 2002, was designed to process and convert locally available flood information to data that can be used by the Hazus Flood Module. The FIT is a system of instructions, tutorials, and geographic information system analysis scripts. When given user-supplied inputs (e.g., topographic data, a digital elevation model (DEM), ground elevations, flood elevations, floodplain boundary information, Q3 data, Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) data, and Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map (DFIRM) data), the FIT will calculate flood depth and elevation for riverine and coastal flood hazards. The FIT is intended to help users perform Level 2 or Level 3 flood hazard analyses. The FIT is run from Hazus-MH or ArcGIS. It is not a standalone program. The FIT is an ArcGIS extension that cannot be installed from the Hazus-MH wizard. FIT must be installed using the Flood Information Tool installer.

Florida Develops Comprehensive Data Management System Web Portal Project

South Carolina Emergency Management Department Infrastructure Database

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that it is funding a Comprehensive Data Management System (CDMS) Web Portal project in Florida, which will complement a similar project that is underway in South Carolina.

The CDMS Web portal enables users to import and manage Hazus-MH data through the web. All that is needed is a browser and either Excel or Access. This functionality and ability to access and share large datasets from multiple locations represents an important breakthrough in Hazus-MH technology.

The South Carolina project is entering the implementation phase, with five training sessions scheduled across the state for the summer, 2008.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) is the taking the lead, with technical support from FEMA Region IV, in the development of its own CDMS Web portal that will initially focus on essential facilities. 

The CDMS Web portal has several important features that will improve statewide data management:

  • Little software is required, with no installation requirements, which will facilitate the expansion of the user base.
  • The CDMS Web portal enables the user to upload and download the datasets that are available on the CDMS desktop version, including site specific inventory (e.g., essential facilities) general building stock and building specific data.
  • A role-based security system is used, which enables the Administrator to assign roles and responsibilities to users and thus limit user access to the database (for example, the user can be assigned rights to update essential facilities; all facilities in a single county or other multiple combinations).

The CDMS Web portal will be a valuable tool for Florida's risk and emergency managers.  The FDEM's Information Management Section will be taking the lead in the full integration of the CDMS into Florida's data management and GIS applications strategies. 

The Florida Hazus-MH Users Group will also play a prominent role in the use of the CDMS Web portal, particularly in the ongoing data inventory process.

The Web Portal will be developed to complement and be fully integrated with the Comprehensive Data Management System (CDMS) that is under development by FEMA to support Hazus.


International Success Stories

Hazus Adapted for Earthquake Risk Assessment in Egypt

As part of an ongoing partnership with the National Research Institute for Astronomy and Physics in Cairo, Egypt, FEMA Region VIII GIS and Hazus users have helped members of the Egyptian government understand their earthquake risk. A two week study was conducted in Cairo between FEMA researchers and local Egyptian emergency managers to help export the Hazus earthquake model for application in Egypt.

While Hazus was designed for use within the United States, the software has been adapted overseas, with researchers on six continents already having incorporated it into their mitigation planning processes. As with any of these prior collaborations, the Egypt study started with a Proxy Building Stock and replaced the information with local data. The overall goal was to focus their limited resources toward developing a powerful inventory of data, engineering parameters, and hazard data rather than trying to reinvent the wheel by developing software. Hazus allows for researchers overseas to get right into data analysis and modeling, rather than having to duplicate efforts.

The team on the ground put together an international building inventory using Earthquake Engineering Research Institute’s (EERI) World Housing Encyclopedia, the Hazus Advanced Engineering Building Module (AEBM) and New Building Type Wizard, which are both included with the program download, the Comprehensive Data Management System (CDMS), and the Rapid Observation of Vulnerability and Estimation of Risk (ROVER) data collection tool. They were then able to integrate the data sources using the LANDSCAN 2012 Global Population database for Egypt. From there they could complete a vulnerability assessment of the area.

The team also spent time during the study looking at the history of Egypt’s building codes, categorizing the data and results by the era during which the buildings were constructed. A summary of building type categories was cross-checked with local expertise. Once catalogued with historical earthquake data for the region and tested with Hazus, the results painted a startling picture of Cairo’s earthquake risk. While collapse rates in the U.S. generally teeter between 3 and 15 percent, those of certain building types in Egypt were as high as 60 percent. This was mainly attributed to a number of unreinforced building types which were used extensively in the pre-code era of Egypt construction.

Map showcasing the structural probability of exceeding moderate damage for a Cairo earthquake using a 1992 historical example.

As a whole, the collaboration effort allowed Egypt’s emergency managers to see firsthand what their predicted economic and structural losses would be in a worst case scenario earthquake disaster. FEMA and the Hazus team hope to continue engaging in these types of international collaborations with researchers and planners looking to discover the vulnerabilities in their cities. Details regarding this study were presented on the August 2015 Hazus National Call. To get a copy of the slides for the August call, or to learn more about this study, please contact the Hazus Outreach Team at

Last Updated: 
04/28/2020 - 19:36