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Protecting Our Communities

Find out how community decisions made now affect the lives and investments of everyone in the community for decades.

A floodwall, built with hazard mitigation funds from FEMA and NY State protected this property from flood waters that devastated other parts of the city, even as rising water from the Susquehanna River engulfed the hospital’s parking lot during Tropical Storm Lee.
A floodwall, built with hazard mitigation funds from FEMA and NY State protected this property from flood waters that devastated other parts of the city, even as rising water from the Susquehanna River engulfed the hospital’s parking lot during Tropical Storm Lee.
Smart community leaders are looking to the future to ensure the long-term safety and sustainability of their entire communities. Factors they consider are: economic viability and diversity, job creation and growth, education for residents, crime, traffic, environment, and so on. Even smarter community leaders consider their communities risks from natural and manmade events which could negatively impact their residents. A community planner in the southeast, for example, most assuredly would look at their community’s vulnerability to hurricanes and floods. A community planner on the West Coast may not have a hurricane risk, but would surely look at earthquakes and wildfire in their risk analysis.

FEMA’s Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA) works with communities across the nation to help them analyze risks and prioritize their mitigation activities. FEMA’s hazard mitigation grant programs, building science expertise, and even flood insurance program assists community leaders in their efforts to ensure better disaster resiliency.

All the knowledge, all the planning, all the experience only matter when put into action. More than 20,500 communities, working together with state and local agencies, actively manage their flood risk with flood hazard maps. More than 5.6 million Americans protect their homes and families from financial loss with insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program. Communities nationwide enforce strong hazard-resistant building code regulations and follow comprehensive hazard mitigation plans to guide development. That’s mitigation in action. That’s mitigation at work.

FEMA's Risk Analysis Division applies engineering, planning, and advanced technology to determine the potential impact of natural hazard events and to develop strategies to manage the risks associated with these hazards. Risk analysis includes assessing critical information both before and after a disaster strikes, developing and maintaining a state-of-the art inventory of flood maps (NFIP Flood Hazard Mapping), and supporting mitigation planning.

Flood Hazard Mapping
Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) are the tool the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses to determine the flood risk that home and business owners face. They are the official maps of a community on which FEMA has delineated both the special hazard areas and the risk premium zones applicable to the community.

National Dam Safety Program
For more than 25 years, the federal government has been working to protect Americans from dam failure through the National Dam Safety Program (NDSP). The NDSP, which is led by FEMA, is a partnership of the states, federal agencies and other stakeholders to encourage individual and community responsibility for dam safety.

Hazards US-Multi-Hazard (Hazus-MH) is a powerful risk assessment software program for analyzing potential losses from floods, hurricane winds, and earthquakes. In Hazus-MH, current scientific and engineering knowledge is coupled with the latest geographic information systems (GIS) technology to produce estimates of hazard-related damage before, or after, a disaster occurs.

Hazard Mitigation Planning
Mitigation planning is a process for states and communities to identify policies, activities, and tools to implement mitigation actions. Mitigation is any sustained action taken to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to life and property from a hazard event.

FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant programs provide funding for eligible mitigation activities that reduce disaster losses and protect life and property from future disaster damages. Currently, FEMA administers the following HMA grant programs:

FEMA's HMA grants are provided to eligible applicants (states/tribes/territories) that, in turn, provide subgrants to local governments and communities. Contact your local (county, city, tribal) emergency management office for more information on applying.

The HMA grant programs provide funding opportunities for pre- and post-disaster mitigation. While the statuatory origins of the programs differ, all share the common goal of reducing the risk of loss of life and property due to natural hazards.

Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) HMGP assists in implementing long-term hazard mitigation measures following Presidential disaster declarations. Funding is available to implement projects in accordance with state, tribal and local priorities.

Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) PDM provides funds on an annual basis for hazard mitigation planning and the implementation of mitigation projects prior to a disaster. The goal of the PDM program is to reduce overall risk to the population and structures, while at the same time, also reducing reliance on federal funding from actual disaster declarations.

Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) FMA provides funds on an annual basis so that measures can be taken to reduce or eliminate risk of flood damage to buildings insured under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

The FEMA Building Science Branch develops and produces guidance that focuses on creating disaster-resilient communities to reduce loss of life and property. They  conduct post-disaster engineering investigations for both man-made and natural hazard events. They take a lead role in developing publications, guidance materials, tools, technical bulletins, and recovery advisories that incorporate the most up-to-date building codes, floodproofing requirements, seismic design standards, and wind design requirements for new construction and the repair of existing buildings.

The National Flood Insurance Program Nearly 20,000 communities across the United States and its territories participate in the NFIP by adopting and enforcing floodplain management ordinances to reduce future flood damage. In exchange, the NFIP makes federally backed flood insurance available to homeowners, renters and business owners in these communities. Community participation in the NFIP is voluntary.

Flood insurance is designed to provide an alternative to disaster assistance to reduce the escalating costs of repairing damage to buildings and their contents caused by floods. Flood damage is reduced by nearly $1 billion a year through communities implementing sound floodplain management requirements and property owners purchasing of flood insurance. Additionally, buildings constructed in compliance with NFIP building standards suffer approximately 80 percent less damage annually than those not built in compliance.

In addition to providing flood insurance and reducing flood damages through floodplain management regulations, the NFIP identifies and maps the nation's floodplains. Mapping flood hazards creates broad-based awareness of the flood hazards and provides the data needed for floodplain management programs and to actuarially rate new construction for flood insurance. Learn more about Floodplain Management.

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Last Updated: 
09/19/2018 - 17:40