According to the website of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), “Mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters. This is achieved through risk analysis, which results in information that provides a foundation for mitigation activities that reduce risk, and flood insurance that protects financial investment.” According to the Code of Federal Regulations (44 CFR §201.2), “Hazard mitigation means any sustained action taken to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to human life and property from hazards.”
Under 44 CFR §201.6, Emergency Management and Assistance, local governments are required to 1) prepare and adopt a jurisdiction-wide hazard mitigation plan as a condition of receiving project grant funds under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), and 2) review and update the hazard mitigation plan every five years from date of plan approval of the previous plan in order to continue program eligibility. The development of a hazard mitigation plan demonstrates a jurisdiction’s commitment to reduce the vulnerability to future natural hazards such as hurricanes, fires, tornados, earthquakes, droughts, winter storms, and flooding.
In 2013, FEMA published an online Local Mitigation Planning Handbook to provide guidance to local governments on developing or updating hazard mitigation plans to meet the requirements of 44 CFR §201.6. It offers practical approaches and examples for how communities can engage in effective planning to reduce long-term risk from natural hazards and disasters. The handbook describes a multi-step planning process to determine the planning area, create an inclusive planning process, conduct a risk assessment, develop and keep a mitigation strategy current.
In Delaware, emergency managers with the Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) and at the county government level take the lead in developing local All Hazard Mitigation Plans for municipalities. Under the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA), local All Hazard Mitigation Plans must be formally adopted by the local governing body of the jurisdiction in order to be approved by FEMA.