Multi-Jurisdictional Natural Hazard Mitigation Planning Project for the Southern Delaware Valley Region (including Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties)
What is Hazard Mitigation?
Natural hazards have the potential to cause property loss, loss of life, economic hardship, and threats to public health and safety. While an important aspect of emergency management deals with disaster recovery – those actions that a community must take to repair damages and make itself whole in the wake of a natural disaster – an equally important aspect of emergency management involves hazard mitigation. Hazard mitigation measures are efforts taken before a disaster happens to lessen the impact that future disasters of that type will have on people and property in the community. They are things you do today to be more protected in the future. Hazard mitigation actions taken in advance of a hazard event are essential to breaking the typical disaster cycle of damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage. With careful selection, hazard mitigation actions can be long-term, cost-effective means of reducing the risk of loss and help create a more disaster-resistant and sustainable community.
What is a Hazard Mitigation Plan?
A Hazard Mitigation Plan is a well-organized and well-documented evaluation of the hazards that a jurisdiction is susceptible to, and the extent to which these events will occur. Hazard Mitigation Plans identify an area’s vulnerability to the effects of the natural hazards typically present in a certain area, as well as the goals, objectives, and actions required for minimizing future loss of life and property damage as a result of hazard events. The primary purpose of mitigation planning is to systematically identify policies, actions, and tools that can be used to implement those actions.
Purpose and Need For The Plan
Hazard mitigation plans are developed BEFORE a disaster strikes. The plans identify community policies, actions, and tools for long-term implementation to reduce risk and potential for future losses. Adopted, implemented and maintained on an ongoing basis, these plans will gradually, but steadily, lessen the impacts associated with hazard events in the Southern Delaware Valley Region.
Under the U.S. Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA 2000), as of November 1, 2004 communities that do not have a FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan in place are no longer eligible for FEMA project grant monies under programs such as the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program (FMA), Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) and Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program (PDM).
Identifying Mitigation Projects and Other Benefits
A major focus of this Hazard Mitigation Plan will be to identify effective mitigation projects and realistic implementation mechanisms for them, including identifying potential funding streams. This focus is applicable to projects that may be eligible for federal funding through FEMA grants or other sources, as well as to projects that may not qualify for federal funding but may still be important to a community. This planning process will help lay the groundwork for implementation of both federally fundable and non-federally fundable mitigation projects.
In addition to identifying and scoping effective mitigation projects, a Hazard Mitigation Plan will also assist the counties and municipalities of the South Delaware Valley Region in the following ways:
- Enhanced coordination of hazard mitigation with comprehensive planning and zoning,
- An increased understanding of the nature of the natural hazards the region faces and our exposure to them,
- Development of more sustainable and disaster-resistant communities,
- Eligibility for federal funds for pre-disaster mitigation planning under DMA 2000,
- Partnerships that support planning and mitigation efforts and may offer potential financial savings, including: reduced flood insurance premiums, broader resources for funding of mitigation projects, and enhanced benefit-cost ratios for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects, and
- Reduced long-term impacts and damages to human health and structures, and reduced repair costs.
- Proactive mitigation leads to the development of sustainable, cost-effective projects. In contrast, reactive mitigation tends to yield “quick-fix” alternatives that may cost much and accomplish little. Proactive mitigation is also far more cost-effective than paying to clean up and rebuild after disasters happen. Danger to population and damage to property can be reduced if the region evaluates where and how disasters may occur, and takes steps to reduce those risks.
Jurisdictions located within the Southern Delaware Valley Region (which includes Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties) who wish to be recognized by FEMA as being compliant with the U.S. Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA 2000) must either: (a) participate with the counties of the Southern Delaware Valley Region in the multi-jurisdictional plan development process and formally adopt the final plan, or (b) prepare their own hazard mitigation plan.
Elected and appointed government officials, business leaders, volunteers of non-profit organizations, citizens, and other stakeholders have been invited to participate in our four coordinated multi-jurisdictional plan development processes as part of our four county planning committees. If you are interested in participating, please contact your respective county Office of Emergency Management.
Citizens of the Southern Delaware Valley Region will have the opportunity to participate by attendance at the various public meetings. The dates of these meeting will be posted on the web sites of the four participating counties.
Active participation in the process is the only way a jurisdiction can be seen in FEMA's eyes as a 'participating jurisdiction' that has met the requirements of DMA 2000 and is therefore eligible to apply for Federal funds for hazard mitigation projects. Participation includes attending meetings, providing feedback and reaching out to the public and other key stakeholders in the community, and adopting the final plan.
The hazard mitigation planning processes will be conducted over the course of approximately one year, beginning in February, 2008. Key steps of the process include:
- Research a full range of natural hazard events.
- Identify the subset of significant hazards; these will be the focus of the plan.
- Identify the location and extent of hazard areas.
- Identify assets located within hazard areas.
- Characterize existing and potential future assets at risk by analyzing land uses and development trends
- Assess vulnerabilities to the identified hazards.
- Identify local, state, and Federal capabilities that support hazard mitigation.
- Develop a mitigation strategy by evaluating and prioritizing goals, objectives, and hazard mitigation actions.
- Adopt the plan.
- Implement the Plan and monitor its progress.
- While natural disasters cannot be prevented from occurring, the continued implementation of our hazard mitigation plan over the long-term will gradually, but steadily, lessen the impacts associated with hazard events in our region.