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Hazus for Emergency Management

FEMA’s Hazus program supports data-driven decision making for mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Mitigation planners can use quantitative risk information from Hazus to evaluate mitigation actions, identify cost-effective projects, and communicate risk to community stakeholders. State, local, tribal, and territorial governments are encouraged to use Hazus to complete the risk assessment component of their hazard mitigation planning. Response planners use Hazus to map the potential impacts of catastrophic events and identify effective strategies for response and preparedness Hazus is also used during real-time disaster response to estimate the impacts of incoming storms or ongoing earthquake sequences.

FEMA partners with other federal agencies, research institutions, and regional planning authorities to ensure Hazus resources use the latest scientific and technological methods and meet the needs of the emergency management community. Representatives from institutions like the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Hurricane Center, and universities across the U.S. serve on Hazus Technical Committees, which meet annually to discuss potential improvements to Hazus model components.

Visit the Hazus Success Stories page to see how others have used Hazus for emergency management.

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Preparedness and Response

Hazus can help strengthen preparedness and response capabilities by assessing risk and forecasting losses.   

  • The hurricane model can help assess which hospitals will be functional in the days following a storm.
  • The earthquake model can help assess which bridges will function right after shaking has occurred.
  • The flood model can help assess which emergency routes might be flooded during a storm.
  • The tsunami model can help assess which residential areas will be most difficult to evacuate and in need of early warning systems.

Mitigation and Recovery

A Hazus risk assessment helps planners identify and evaluate effective mitigation strategies by highlighting high-loss areas and estimating losses avoided because of specific resilience measures. FEMA’s “Using Hazus for Mitigation Planning” document provides more information.

  • The hurricane model helps assess the benefits of hurricane straps, shutters, tie-downs for manufactured housing, and different roof types.
  • The earthquake model helps assess the benefits of seismic retrofits and the application of more resilient building codes.
  • The flood model helps assess the benefits of elevating a structure, implementing community buyouts, and adopting regulatory measures that affect development in floodplains.
  • The tsunami model identifies inundation areas, at-risk structures, and evacuation routes critical for saving lives.  It estimates damages for Alaska, Oregon, Washington, California, Hawaii, and five U.S. territories.

Hazard vulnerability and risk assessments produced using Hazus provide useful input data for local Hazard Mitigation Plans (HMPs) and can identify cost-effective mitigation actions. FEMA reviews HMPs to ensure communities are planning for mitigation and to identify projects and actions FEMA can fund under the Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program or the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Program.

Individual Disaster Assistance

For more than 20 years, Hazus has identified risk gaps and supported the analysis of shelter requirements, displaced households, and residential losses from earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes. These analyses help inform the Individual Disaster Assistance Program.

In the aftermath of a major disaster, an Individual Assistance Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) is carried out to “identify the impact, type, and extent of disaster damages and to determine the impact on individuals while identifying the resources needed to recover” (Preliminary Damage Assessment for Individual Assistance Operations Manual, 9327.1-PR). Hazus building damage categories are used directly for a PDA to help teams on the ground understand anticipated damage and effectively allocate resources across an affected area. When in-person PDA processes are not possible, Hazus risk model results can be used to drive FEMA assistance requests.