Natural hazards that have and will continue to disrupt the lives of Oregonians include coastal erosion, droughts, dust storms, earthquakes, wildfires, floods, landslides, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, windstorms, and winter storms. In addition, climate change may influence the frequency and severity of some of these natural hazards.
Disasters occur as a predictable interaction among three broad systems: natural systems, the built environment, and social systems. What is not predictable is exactly when natural hazards will occur or the extent to which they will affect communities within the state. However, with careful planning and collaboration it is possible to minimize the losses that can occur from natural hazards.
Natural hazard mitigation is any sustained action taken to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk of damage to life, property, and resources from natural hazards. Mitigation is the responsibility of individuals, private businesses and industries, state and local governments, and the federal government. Engaging in mitigation activities provides a number of benefits: fewer injuries and deaths; less damage to buildings, critical facilities, and infrastructure; diminshed interruption in essential services; reduced economic hardship; minimized environmental harm; and quicker, lower-cost recovery.
The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) was signed into law on November 23, 1988 and provides the legal authority for most federal disaster response activities, particularly Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) activities and programs. The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA 2000) amended the Stafford Act, emphasizing the need for state, local, and Indian Tribal entities to coordinate hazard mitigation efforts. It made the existing requirement for states to have hazard mitigation plans a prerequisite for disaster assistance, and provided an incentive in the form of additional funding for states that enhance coordination and integration of mitigation planning and activities. DMA 2000 also established a requirement that local governments have mitigation plans as a condition of receiving certain mitigation grant funds.
To implement DMA 2000, FEMA published Interim Final Rule 44 CFR Part 201 on February 26, 2002. The Rule contains the requirements for developing state and local natural hazard mitigation plans and required them to be updated every three years and five years, respectively. The first Oregon Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan (NHMP) was completed in 1992; it was updated in 2000, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2012, and 2015. An amendment to the Rule effective May 27, 2014 extended the life of state natural hazards mitigation plans from three to five years. Accordingly, the 2015 Oregon NHMP will be effective through September 23, 2020.
The Oregon NHMP is one component of the first volume of the Oregon Emergency Management Plan which is administered by the Oregon Military Department's Office of Emergency Management.