Mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters. In order for mitigation to be effective we need to take action now—before the next disaster—to reduce human and financial consequences later (analyzing risk, reducing risk, and insuring against risk). It is important to know that disasters can happen at any time and any place and if we are not prepared, consequences can be fatal.
Effective mitigation requires that we all understand local risks, address the hard choices, and invest in long-term community well-being. Without mitigation actions, we jeopardize our safety, financial security and self-reliance.
- Disasters can happen at anytime and anyplace; their human and financial consequences are hard to predict.
- The number of disasters each year is increasing but only 50 percent of events trigger Federal assistance.
- FEMA's mitigation programs help reduce the impact of events—and our dependence on taxpayers and the Treasury for disaster relief.
FEMA's Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA) manages the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and implements a variety of programs authorized by Congress to reduce losses that may result from natural disasters. Effective mitigation efforts can break the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage. FEMA's mitigation and insurance efforts are organized into three primary activities that help states, tribes, territories and localities achieve the highest level of mitigation: Risk Analysis, Risk Reduction, and Risk Insurance. Through these activities and FEMA's day-to-day work across the country, communities are able to make better mitigation decisions before, during, and after disasters.
Government agencies must understand the full impact of natural hazards using applied multi-hazard engineering science and advanced technology in order to effectively plan to reduce natural hazard effects.
The goal of risk reduction is to reduce the risk to life and property, which includes existing structures and future construction, in the pre and post-disaster environments. This is achieved through regulations, local ordinances, land use, and building practices and mitigation projects that reduce or eliminate long-term risk from hazards and their effects.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) goal is to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures by providing affordable insurance for property owners. The program encourages communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations, which will mitigate the effects of flooding on new and improved structures.
The NFIP is helping communities reduce the socio-economic impact of disasters by promoting the purchase and retention of both Risk Insurance and National Flood Insurance.
Mitigation's Value to Society
Mitigation is valuable to society because:
- It creates safer communities by reducing loss of life and property damage. For example, the rigorous building standards adopted by 20,000 communities across the country are saving the nation more than $1.1 billion a year in prevented flood damages.
- It allows individuals to minimize post-flood disaster disruptions and recover more rapidly. For example, homes built to NFIP standards incur less damage from floods. When floods cause damage, flood insurance protects the homeowner's investment, as it did for the more than 200,000 Gulf Coast residents who received more than $23 billion in payments following the 2005 hurricanes.
- It lessens the financial impact on individuals, communities, and society as a whole. For example, a recently updated study by the National Institute of Building Sciences shows that federally funded mitigation grants, on average, can save the nation $6 in future disaster costs for every $1 spent on hazard mitigation. The report also demonstrates for the first time that, on average, investments made by local communities and homeowners in hazard mitigation measures that exceed standard building codes can save the nation $4 for every $1 spent.
Mitigation Best Practices Portfolio
FEMA's Best Practices Portfolio is a collection of ideas for activities, projects, and potential funding sources that can help reduce or prevent the impacts of disasters. By sharing your first-hand experience of damaged areas, you help spread the word of how important, effective and life-saving mitigation can be. Stories that focus on successful mitigation projects and practices implemented after a disaster may encourage communities and individuals to implement new mitigation efforts to prevent future damages.The portfolio is a collection of ideas for activities, projects, and potential funding sources that can help reduce or prevent the impacts of disasters. By sharing your first-hand experience of damaged areas, you help spread the word of how important, effective, and life-saving mitigation can be. Stories that focus on successful mitigation projects and practices implemented after a disaster may encourage other communities and individuals to implement new mitigation efforts to prevent future damages.
Mitigation Fact Sheets
This series of Fact Sheets provide information about:
- FEMA's Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA)
- Mitigation Grant Programs
- National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program
- National Flood Insurance Program
- Additional Mitigation Programs and Activities
- Environmental and Historic Preservation