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Natural Hazards Mitigation Planning

A car comes to a stop at the waterline of a flooded roadThe mission and vision of Oregon's statewide natural hazards mitigation planning program are to create a disaster-resilient state of Oregon such that natural hazard events result in no loss of life, minimal property damage, and limited long-term impacts to the economy. The purpose of Statewide Planning Goal 7 is similarly, to protect people and property from natural hazards.

DLCD helps local governments and tribes implement Goal 7 by identifying and planning for the hazards they are most likely to face. DLCD provides data and other hazard planning information in collaboration with other state and federal agencies. DLCD also helps entities use these resources to develop natural hazards mitigation plans and integrate them with other plans, policies, programs and regulations. In this way, natural hazards mitigation will be considered in decision-making processes and development projects.

What is natural hazard mitigation?

Disasters occur when natural hazard events impact people, property, and the environment. We are unable to predict exactly when natural hazards will occur, or the extent to which they will affect communities. However, with careful planning and collaboration, it is possible to identify and implement actions that will reduce loss when the next disaster strikes. Implementing mitigation actions can also reduce the length of time that essential services are unavailable after a disaster, protect critical facilities, reduce economic hardship, speed recovery, and reduce construction costs.

Natural hazard mitigation is any sustained action taken to reduce or remove the long-term risk to life, property, and the environment from natural hazards. Mitigation is the responsibility of individuals, businesses, industries, non-profits, and all levels of government. It is most effective when implemented under a comprehensive, long-term natural hazards mitigation plan, and integrated into other plans. State, tribal, and local governments engage in hazard mitigation planning to identify risks and vulnerabilities associated with natural disasters, and develop long-term strategies for protecting people, property, and the environment from future hazard events.

​A natural hazards mitigation plan (NHMP) identifies hazards, vulnerabilities, and risks facing a local, state, or tribal government, and prioritizes actions to reduce the risks. A NHMP has two core parts: a risk assessment and a mitigation strategy.

Risk Assessment

The risk assessment involves three main tasks: characterizing each hazard, assessing vulnerabilities, and describing risks. First, a hazard characterization is performed by determining the causes and characteristics of each hazard, documenting past occurrences, and estimating the probability and intensity of future events. Then, a vulnerability assessment is performed by inventorying the existing (or planned) property and population groups exposed to each hazard, and evaluating how they will be affected. Finally, the hazard characterization is combined with the vulnerability assessment to provide an understanding of the risk of each hazard to a community. A risk assessment can be performed for local communities, a region, or the state as a whole.

Mitigation Strategy

The mitigation strategy has 4 main parts: mitigation goals, a capability assessment, mitigation actions, and an implementation plan. The risk assessment provides the information needed to establish goals for reducing the identified risks. Mitigation actions are developed to achieve the goals. They may be physical projects, planning projects, education and outreach strategies, or other activities that achieve the risk reduction goals. The capability assessment identifies the jurisdiction's resources available for mitigation and opportunities for considering hazard mitigation in its decision-making processes. The implementation plan shows how the mitigation actions will be achieved. Actions are prioritized. For each action, a leader and assistants are identified; potential funding sources are identified; and a due date is set.

 

The planning process is as important as the plan itself. A jurisdiction must reach out to all sectors of the community and to neighboring jurisdictions, providing opportunities to participate and to review the plan as it is being drafted. The planning process must be well-documented in the plan.

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 FEMA activities and programs. The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA 2000) amended the Stafford Act, emphasizing the need for state, local, and tribal entities to coordinate hazard mitigation efforts. It requires states to have a natural hazard mitigation plan prior to a receiving disaster assistance, and provides an incentive (additional funding) for those that enhance coordination and integration of mitigation planning and activities. DMA 2000 also requires local governments to have a natural hazard mitigation plan as a condition of receiving certain mitigation grant funds.

The FEMA-approved NHMPs, while voluntary, confer eligibility for Hazard Mitigation Assistance through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program, and the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program.

To implement DMA 2000, FEMA published Interim Final Rule 44 CFR Part 201 on February 26, 2002. The Rule contains the requirements for developing and updating state, tribal government, and local natural hazard mitigation plans. Today, all NHMPs are updated every five years.

Click here to sign up for email notices of news on the State of Oregon's NHMP.

Oregon's Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan (NHMP) provides statewide and regional information on the natural hazards most likely to occur in the state. The Plan also reports on the potential impacts of natural hazards on people, property, and the environment, and establishes a mitigation strategy to reduce those impacts. The first Oregon NHMP was completed in 1992.

Each five-year update to Oregon's NHMP must be approved by FEMA so that the state can receive federal funds to carry out mitigation planning and projects. As long as Oregon's NHMP meets the "enhanced plan" standard, the state will continue to receive extra funding after a disaster. Oregon's latest NHMP was approved on September 24, 2015 as an enhanced plan. It will need to be updated and re-approved in 2020.

The State Interagency Hazard Mitigation Team (State IHMT) consists of staff from state agencies and universities involved in hazard mitigation. It provides broad oversight and policy direction for hazard mitigation in Oregon, including updating and maintaining the Oregon NHMP. The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) supports the State IHMT and manages some of the disaster mitigation funding that the state receives from the federal government. Federal funds are generally given to the state because of a Presidentially-declared natural disaster.

A local NHMP identifies and examines the hazards, vulnerabilities, and risks facing a city, county, or special district. It establishes a mitigation strategy to reduce impacts of natural disasters on people, property, and the environment. DLCD assists with the creation and update of local NHMPs for cities, counties, and special districts.

A local NHMP can cover a single jurisdiction or multiple jurisdictions. It is more common to have a multi-jurisdictional plan where a county, the cities within, and several special districts collaborate to produce a single plan that is adopted by all of the governing bodies.

Local natural hazard mitigation plans in Oregon use data from the Oregon NHMP, data and information gathered by the local government, expertise from a local NHMP steering committee, and input from subject matter experts. The local NHMPs are reviewed by the Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and then by FEMA. Following review, both FEMA and the local government must approve the NHMP. Once approved, the local government may receive federal funding for natural hazard mitigation planning and projects.

DLCD works with local planners to identify potential hazards, vulnerabilities, and risks that should be described in a local NHMP. Go to FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Plan Requirements web page for more specific details on the content required for a Plan approval. Also, review the resources on our web pages, and contact us to learn how we can more directly assist your community in the planning process.

Local Mitigation Plan Handbook (2013) - FEMA

Local Mitigation Plan Review Guide (2011) - FEMA

Oregon Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program Plan Update Training Manual (2010) – Oregon Partnership for Disaster Resilience (Note: This guide pre-dates FEMA's most recent guidance. Please contact OPDR for advice on navigating any conflicting passages.)

Hazard Mitigation Planning – FEMA

Local Hazard Mitigation Planning Fact Sheet – FEMA

Planning for Natural Hazards: Oregon Technical Resource Guide (2000)

Oregon has nine federally recognized tribal governments. The tribes typically work directly with FEMA to build their NHMPs and keep them up to date (44 CFR Part 201.7). However, DLCD assists tribes with natural hazards planning as requested. Please contact us if your tribe would like to receive planning assistance.

Contacts

Marian Lahav
NHMP Program Coordinator
marian.lahav@state.or.us
Phone: 503-934-0024

Tricia Sears
Natural Hazards Planner
tricia.sears@state.or.us
Phone: 503-934-0031

Jason Gately
Natural Hazards Planner
jason.gately@state.or.us
Phone: 503-934-0043

Pam Reber
Natural Hazards Planner
pamela.reber@state.or.us
Phone: 503-934-0066

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