Kathy Smith, AICP, Planning and Safety Branch Chief shares her views on the importance of the 20th anniversary of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000.
October 30 was the 20th anniversary of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000. With this law, Congress officially recognized that one of the best ways to protect communities from disaster is having a plan to make them safer and stronger. For states, tribes, territories and local governments, these plans became required to receive FEMA funding for mitigation projects like buying properties, raising buildings or improving drainage. As we mark this anniversary, we also celebrate other milestones in the movement to build safer, more resilient communities.
One of these is the National Mitigation Investment Strategy. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy revealed the need for more coordination on how and where federal, state, tribal and local governments spend money and resources to build more disaster-resilient communities. In response, a working group of leaders across the federal government developed the National Mitigation Investment Strategy.
With an end goal of making the nation more resilient, the Investment Strategy builds on the legacy of the Disaster Mitigation Act. It lays out a collaborative, integrated approach that brings all partners – federal, state, local, tribal and territorial - to the same table. It lines up and unites the efforts of the various groups that are working to make the nation’s communities safer. Mitigation becomes more effective and coordinated when federal, state, tribal, and local governments and private and nonprofit groups work together.
The Disaster Mitigation Act helped state, territorial, tribal, and local governments proactively plan to reduce the damage from natural disasters. The Investment Strategy works to make sure the investments applied to those plans are having as much impact as possible to make communities stronger. The Investment Strategy has three goals:
- Show how mitigation investments reduce risk;
- Coordinate mitigation investments to reduce risk; and
- Make mitigation investment standard practice.
Like the Disaster Mitigation Act, the Investment Strategy aims to lessen the impact of future disasters. Both seek to prevent injury and loss of life, reduce suffering, decrease damage, and protect communities. The activities they encourage are similar:
- Strengthening infrastructure
- Collecting and sharing data (for example, flood maps)
- Dedicating funding
- Identifying areas of risks
- Sharing knowledge and advice
With the implementation of this vital hazard mitigation act over the last 20 years, efforts like the National Mitigation Investment Strategy prove that its legacy is alive and evolving. Mitigation planning and its resulting actions, expanded to a coordinated national effort, will lead to a more resilient future.
FEMA is celebrating the anniversary and legacy of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 throughout October and November. For more information about the law, visit fema.gov/disasters/authorities.
In addition, the 2020 Fiscal Year funding cycle for the Hazard Mitigation non-disaster grants is accepting applications until Jan. 29, 2021. As a FEMA-approved Hazard Mitigation Plan is required for funding, review the eligible projects for funding for a Flood Mitigation Assistance and the new pre-disaster mitigation program Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities.