FEMA and its Federal partners have programs, resources, and tools to enhance State, local, and Tribal hazard mitigation. This page contains information on the programs that State, local, and Tribal governments can integrate with their planning framework to strengthen overall risk reduction efforts.
Floodplain Management through the National Flood Insurance Program and Community Rating System
Floodplain management is a mitigation tactic and risk reduction capability for State and local governments across the country. It includes requirements for zoning codes, subdivision ordinances, building codes, and special-purpose floodplain ordinances. FEMA has minimum floodplain management standards, but disaster prevention and risk reduction are effective when regulations are written and enforced to a higher, safer standard. The Higher Floodplain Management Standards and Freeboard Fact Sheets explain why standards are valuable elements of community planning. FEMA maintains a list of floodplain management publications to support mitigation nationwide.
Floodplain management regulations are adopted, enacted, and enforced as part of a community’s participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which aims to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures by providing affordable insurance and encouraging sustainable development. Over 20,500 communities and more than 5.6 million Americans protect their homes, families, and businesses from financial losses during flood events through the NFIP. To determine whether your community participates in the NFIP, visit the NFIP Community Status Book.
The NFIP’s Community Rating System (CRS) is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements. Communities earn “activity points” for advanced public information, mapping and regulations, flood damage reduction, and flood preparedness activities. In exchange, communities can receive up to 45‑percent premium discounts.
The CRS program has synergies with hazard mitigation and local planning. Benefits of CRS program and hazard mitigation plan integration include:
- A better mitigation plan and, therefore, more effective mitigation projects;
- Eligibility for FEMA mitigation grants to help fund projects recommended in the plan;
- Credits toward a reduction in flood insurance premiums in CRS-participating communities; and
- Familiarizing more communities with the CRS program and its flood insurance benefits.
The new Hazard Mitigation Planning and the CRS Key Topics Bulletin makes it easier for communities to align each program’s process and requirements.
Protecting the Built Environment through Building Sciences
FEMA’s Building Science Branch provides technical services focused on creating disaster-resilient communities that reduce loss of life and property. Building Science takes the lead role in developing publications, guidance materials, tools, and technical bulletins that can help build a multi-hazard mitigation strategy. The branch also supports the development of disaster-resilient building codes. Visit the Building Science Publications for more information and resources.
Protecting Historic Property and Cultural Resources
Whether a disaster impacts a major community museum, a historic "main street," or collections of family photographs, the sudden loss of historic properties and cultural resources can negatively impact a community's character and economy, and can affect the overall ability of the community to recover from a disaster. Integrating Historic Property and Cultural Resource Considerations into Hazard Mitigation Planning (2005) shows communities how to develop and implement a pre-disaster planning strategy for historic properties and cultural resources.
Mitigation Grant Programs
FEMA requires State, Tribal, and local governments to develop and adopt hazard mitigation plans as a condition for receiving certain types of non-emergency disaster assistance authorized by the Stafford Act and the National Flood Insurance Act. These grants can support the implementation of State, local, and Tribal mitigation actions. Please visit the main Hazard Mitigation Planning page for further explanation of these hazard mitigation plan requirements.
- Stafford Act Grant Programs
- National Flood Insurance Act Grant Programs
Each program's page includes information about the types of funding available for mitigation plan development and mitigation projects. More information on the Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant programs (HMGP, PDM, and FMA) can be found in the Hazard Mitigation Assistance brochures:
- FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) Brochure 7/2015
- Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Trifold Brochure 7/2015
- Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Grants Brochure 4-page 7/2015
Community Planning and Capacity Building
FEMA’s Community Planning and Capacity Building (CPCB) Recovery Support Function builds the recovery capabilities and community planning resources of local, State, and Tribal governments. While officials focus on post-disaster activities, these capabilities can be leveraged to support mitigation and smart planning decisions both before and after an event. Communities and States interested in preparing for recovery before a disaster are encouraged to view the Pre-Disaster Recovery Planning Guide for State Governments and the Pre-Disaster Recovery Planning Guide for Local Governments.
Several Federal agency partners with hazard mitigation and resilience programs can support hazard mitigation programs nationwide.
- Environmental Protection Agency Smart Growth Program: In 2016, FEMA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) renewed the FEMA-EPA Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the two agencies to work together to help communities become safer, healthier, and more resilient. As first implemented in 2010, the two agencies will collaborate to help communities that have been affected by disasters to recover and mitigate risk in ways that protect the environment, create long-term economic prosperity, and enhance neighborhoods. FEMA and the EPA will also help communities incorporate smart growth and climate adaptation strategies to improve quality of life and direct development away from vulnerable areas.
Read about the joint FEMA-EPA projects on the EPA’s Smart Growth web pages.
- Environmental Protection Agency Hazard Mitigation Guide for Utilities: The EPA has created an interactive, user-friendly guide that helps utilities understand how to mitigate natural disasters and their impacts, including floods, earthquakes, droughts, wildfires, tornados, and power outages. Additionally, the guide explains why mitigation is important, how it should be included in your community’s local mitigation plan, how to identify mitigation projects for each disaster, and how to implement and fund proposed mitigation projects. More information on the Hazard Mitigation Starter Guide for Water and Wastewater Utilities is available from the EPA’s Water Utility Response for Drinking Water and Wastewater Utilities web page.
- Department of Housing and Urban Development Consolidated Plans: The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Consolidated Planning Process mandates that States and local governments evaluate the availability of broadband access and the vulnerability of housing occupied by low- and moderate-income residents to natural hazards. Many natural hazards may now be increasing in both frequency and intensity due to climate change, requiring hazards evaluation and resilience strategies to be included in Consolidated Planning efforts. Evaluations are conducted using readily available data developed by Federal agencies, other analyses (i.e., FEMA-approved State, Tribal, and local hazard mitigation plans), and information available to State and local government grantees. Further discussion of the process to incorporate hazard identification and risk assessment into Consolidated Plans can be found in the Federal Register.
- Economic Development Administration: The Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) guidelines contribute to successful economic development in America’s communities. CEDS content guidelines encourage the inclusion of economic resilience considerations to strengthen a community’s ability to anticipate risk, evaluate how risk can affect key economic assets, and build responsive capacity. The guidelines encourage coordination with local hazard mitigation planning. Read more about economic resilience in the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy on the EDA’s CEDS webpage.
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Silver Jackets Program: The Silver Jackets are cooperative teams across the country that bring together multiple State, Federal, and sometimes Tribal and local agencies. Members of the Silver Jackets learn from one another and apply their knowledge to reduce the risk of flooding and other natural disasters in the United States and enhance response and recovery efforts when events occur. For more information, please visit the Silver Jackets webpage.