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FEMA Approved Emergency Operation Plans for Long-Term Recovery and Addressing Of Specific Needs for Mitigation Efforts


FEMAApproved Emergency Operation Plans for Long-Term Recovery andAddressing Of Specific Needs for Mitigation Efforts


The&nbspeffects of a natural disasterafter they occur can impact the vulnerabilities of communities towithstand disaster resilience. Mitigation planning promotes astrategic approach of sustainability when dealing with disasterresilience. In order to develop a successful multi hazard mitigationplans, communities must be informed of the potentials challenges andproblems they face prior to a hazardous event occurring. Mitigationactivities can be enacted&nbspbefore, during, or after an incident.However, it is difficult to finance the needs of a hazardous eventafter it has already occurred and it is also difficult to acquirefunding intended for disaster relief. Additionally, multi hazardmitigations plans provide the type of information needed to addressand maintain a planning process that will result in safer communitiesbefore disasters occurring.&nbsp


Thereare three types of hazards – civil or human-caused, technologicalor natural. These events threaten the society and also became theroot of harms to society properties and at the same time theenvironment (Godschalk, 1991). Majority of the fatalities fromhazards consequence from relations “among the built environment,the social and demographic characteristics of the population at risk,government policies and programs, and the physical environment“(Mileti as cited by Olonilua, 2006, p. 9). The impact of theHurricane Katrina’s on the state of New Orleans verified theserelations.

Civil Hazards

Acivil hazard, also known as human-caused hazards, is the cautiousdisturbance of community activities, which can root property damage,injury, and even death. These include terrorism. After the September11, 2001 terrorism incidence, terrorism has gain increased attention.Since then, it is a focus on the hazard mitigation. “Most terroristattacks are carried out in the form of assassinations, kidnappings,hijackings and the use of chemical and biological agents in high-riskareas such as military and public facilities, and airports”(Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 2006a). Terrorismincludes the use of violence and force to impart fear in the public.Nevertheless the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack has amplifiedthe effort of the government on terrorism, this has been a realityever since the start of global warfare.

Technological Hazards

Technologicalhazards are hazards that includes industrial bursts, nuclear powerplant catastrophes and transportation calamities including hazardousmaterials, and escape of harmful gases (FEMA, 2006a). The greatestcommunal technological hazards are explosions and fire. Theconsequences of the dangers can be long-term and treacherous, thatis, sufferers of these hazards may not know the effect of this hazardon their health until years later. An incidence of this occurred on1985. Around 70,000 workers were anticipated to possess cancer fromtheir contact to asbestos after World War II (Kasperson and Pijawka(1985) as cited by Olonilua, 2006). Additional instance of along-term and treacherous hazard is the wellbeing problems subsequentfrom toxic surplus sites in Love Canal, New York. Love Canal has beenobserved to be dumping hazardous waste on the ground and later, thesite was transformed to a municipal landfill site (1920s). On thelate 1950s, it was converted into a residential community. (Levine,1982). After 25years, around eleven carcinogens were alleged to haveinfested around a hundred families and also a public school at thearea. Children experienced burnt from playing outdoors, pregnantwomen produce babies with birth defects. It has been also detectedthat there is a high white blood cell blood among the residents ofthe area. These have been believed to be a consequence of the thrownhazardous wastes on the area years ago (Levine, 1982).

Natural Hazards

Naturalhazards are life-threatening natural incidences like landslides,earthquakes and flooding that are usually intensified by humandealings with the surroundings. An example is urbanization.Urbanization upsurges impermeable surfaced, which may rise the extentand strength of flooding. Furthermore, human contact with theenvironment is demonstrated by the expansion of low-lying areas andvalleys of New Orleans, which usually resulted to flooding andaccordingly enormous deaths and property losses (Burby, 2005).Numerous natural hazards are the subordinate effect of a principalhazard, for example, a landslide usually arises from heavy rains,earthquakes or flood. Other subordinate disasters subsequent fromearthquakes are ground catastrophes, fires and landslides. Aninstance is the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that caused numerouslandslides along the San-Francisco-Santa Cruz-Monterey Bay region(Mileti, 1999). These types of hazards typically have detailedpatterns of incidences and are thus generally more expectable thanthe other two types of hazards (Godschalk, 1991).


Earthquakesare movements on the earth which is commonly produced by theunexpected discharge of amassed strain from fault lines and volcaniceruptions occurrences (Mileti, 1999). “They happen from coolingforces within the earth and energy released from storage in variousareas of the rocks while earthquakes do not have a regular patternof occurrence or provide adequate warning period, they occurfrequently and with high intensity and damage at particulargeographical areas” (Godschalk, 1991). The magnitude of anearthquake is identified using the Richter scale established byCharles Richter of the California Institute of Technology in 1937. Ifthe magnitude of the earthquake is 2.0 or less on a Richter scale, itis labelled as a micro-earthquake which has no noteworthy effect onpeople. On the other hand, an earthquake magnitude of more than 2.0can meaningfully effect people. In 1931, The Modified Mercalli (MM)Intensity scale made possess a twelve accumulative points describedby roman numerals. It is a random ranking of experiential effects ofearthquakes. The MM offers real strength and damage of earthquakesand delivers beneficial information to city planners on the securityof human lives in the occurrences of killer earthquake (Hoetmer,1991 Drabek, 1991). Loss due to these earthquakes may be physical ornon-physical. Structural losses affect the structures (e.g.buildings) whereas the non-physical losses commonly affect thematters inside the structures like the windows, the furniture and theappliances (Mileti, 1999). The recorded most damaging earthquakeshappened in 1906 at San Francisco. The killer earthquake killed about700 people and have damaged and totally destroyed numerous buildings(Watson and Watson, 1997). The Southern part of California is notedto be very vulnerable to earthquakes occurrences since it is locatedbetween the North American and Pacific plates (Mileti, 1999).


Hurricanesare huge air multitudes made from moist and warm air nearby alow-pressure zone. They happen frequently in the East and Gulf Coastsbut their consequences are sensed by almost all parts of the country,like the West Coast and Hawaii (Mileti, 1999). Hurricane occurrencescan be predicted since it tend to take place almost at the same timeof each year, for that reason permitting ample time to offerwarnings. Storm winds come about from about a hundred and twenty(120) kilometers an hour with very high strength and low chance ofincidence. If winds are below 119 kilometers, these are considered ass tropical storms (National Hurricane Center, 2006 Godschalk, 1991).More or less subsequent occurrences after hurricanes are flooding,earthquakes and expected sudden annihilation of structures like theelectric power system and also the communication (telephone) system(Mileti, 1999).The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami Floridahas the chief accountability to forecast hurricanes and releasewarnings to the public, which are information disseminated through acentralized computer system. The Center releases a watch when a stormis expected to be around 300 or more miles from the coastline of thecountry. A warning is the issued when the hurricane is probable toattack the land in the next 24 hours. Predictions are extra precisewhen the storm is nearly located at the shore (Mileti, 1999). Eventhough it may seem to be hard to forecast the thorough influence of acertain hurricane, sufficient evidence or data is typicallyaccessible over prediction therefore sensible warnings can bedelivered and thus lessen human fatalities and economic indemnities.


Floodconsequences from mud overflow on dry land, water excess, surfacewater runoff, subsiding, melting snow and heavy precipitation (FEMA,2006a). Flooding happens as a consequence of hurricanes. This canalso be produced by dam or bank failure, or the discharge offloodgates. Dams and water banks usually used for watering ofagricultural lands and leisure purposes can “break” subsequent indischarging water downstream thus producing flash floods.

Also, human actionswhich include improvement of floodplains, concretization, anddeforestation, can also intensify the strength of this natural hazardparticularly in city areas. Floods is the common cause of majority ofthe fatalities and economic loss in the United States and theoccurrences of such floods can be any time within a year. All partsof the United States are also prone to such flooding (Mileti, 1999Burby, 2005). Floods produced an estimated average of $2.4 billionyearly in financial losses in 1996 to 2005. The National FloodInsurance Program funded $31.4 billion in privileges in 1978 to 2006(FEMA, 2006c). Floods can harm a local community or numerouscommunities all at once. As an instance is the occurrence of theTropical Storm Allison in 2001 which affected numerous politicalauthorities nearby the Houston Metropolitan area (Harris County FloodControl District, 2003).

Accordingto FEMA, majority of the people are living in probable zones offlooding. But there are differences on these zones. Theclassification can be high risk, low risk or in between (moderaterisk) for probable flooding (FEMA, 2006b). FEMA make use of the FloodInsurance Rate Map (FIRM) to locate flood zones and plain zones forcontrolling and insurance resolutions. The map location likewiseoffers simple info on flood height and plain limits. Flash floods areexpected to be more hazardous since they happen unexpectedly lackingof any warning even in dry places. A recent flash flood occurrence isin El Paso, Texas that headed to the clearing of numerous inhabitantsfrom the flooded zones (The Associated Press, 2005). On a dry land,rain can block up dry gulfs or abysses which has the possibility toturn into hazardous fast-moving water. Usually, water from thesefloods transports debris, mud, rocks and other materials from theflood trail thus causing in amplified damage and injuries.


Landslideshappen for the reason that there is a downslope movement of rock,earth mass, and debris from feeble soil assembly (Godschalk, 1991).Landslides can happen so sudden or slowly which could have sensibleor high strength and as a result a high probable of annihilation.These landslides happen on unbalanced stagnated slopes, and may betempted by an earthquake. Landslides occurrences are usual inseismically active rocky areas like in Hawaii, Hawaii, Appalachiansand California. Mileti (1999) noted that around 1975 to 1994,landslides have triggered two fatalities and around $124 million inasset losses throughout the country. Landslides can be mitigated overdrainage, grading, and building practices that lessen lopeunsteadiness. Landslides are, on the other hand not openly enclosedby insurance, excluding for losses subsequent from a protected floodor earthquake.

Thenecessity to lessen the damages due to these dangers has headed tothe development of several hazard mitigation approaches. Thesubsequent parts of this paper discusses hazard mitigation and thenumerous mitigation techniques.

Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000

Identifying vulnerabilities that differamong all jurisdictions of the local and state governments can helpdecision makers engage in comprehensive reviews to help implementprograms that will improve the regulations of local communities tocomply with the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 in order to qualifyfor grants or funding. FEMA approved emergency operation plans acrossall jurisdictions should be implemented because it sets the tone forlong-term recovery and addresses specific needs for mitigationefforts.&nbsp

In 2000, the U.S. Congress improved theRobert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of1988 by the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA, 2000) in responseto the increasing disaster events in the United States. In the DMA2000, Congress identifies emergency management as a dualresponsibility for the Federal, State, and local government. The DMAincorporate a more proactive approach at the state and local levelsby emphasizing on preventative and collaborative measures as opposedto the Stafford Act. Additionally, Federal Emergency ManagementAgency (FEMA) goal is to develop a national emergency managementsystem that is comprehensive, risk-based, and all hazards in approachin union with State and local governments.&nbsp

The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000required local government to complete pre-disaster mitigation plansapproved by FEMA in order to be eligible for certain types of fundingfor post disaster financial assistance. Even with this requirement inplace, many local jurisdictions in the U.S. have yet to adopt aFEMA-approved multi-hazard mitigation plan. FEMA said that in 2009“less than half of all local governments (44.3% or 17,330 localgovernments) had FEMA-Approved Hazard mitigation plans. The DMAprovide a structure for a unified and comprehensive approach tohazard mitigation.&nbspLocal jurisdictions face a stringentchallenge in meeting the requirements for the DMA 2000 and withoutestablishing clear and concise goals for a coordinated strategyacross all level of the government, the ability for real change canbe hindered. The DMA incorporate a more regulatory oversight on lowerlevel governments to comply with FEMA planning guidelines forsuccessful mitigation and disaster resiliency.

Risk assessment plays a pivotal role inunderstanding the vulnerabilities in a community when a naturalhazard event is about to happen. Emergency management personnel usethe information and data collected in order to identify potentialhazards and subsequently responses towards vulnerable assets. Pearce(2003) suggested that interest in disaster management activitiesincreases as exposure to disasters increases. In the past, the focusof emergency management would focus on either civil defense ornatural disaster response. Today, emergency managers and respondershave to deal with both of these emergency types as well as terrorismthreats. Hite (2003) state, “all hazards approach to emergencymanagement needs to me maintained. (p. 20).&nbspIt’s not practicalor financially feasible to have a response plans for all threeemergency types of situation – the natural, technological andhuman-caused incidents. An all hazards mitigation approachestablishes a general and unified framework that will function forall three types of hazards. Prater and Lindell (2000) suggest that“successful adoption and implementation of hazard mitigationrelated activities require getting the right people and organizationsinvolved and for them to understand the political process well enoughto implement effective policy” (p. 74). Understanding riskassessment helps communities, emergency response programs andmanagers identify the measures needed to reduce the impacts ofnatural hazard.&nbsp &nbsp

Responsibilities of Risk Assessment&nbsp

State and local governments share theresponsibilities in assessing risk management from natural hazards.Once state and local governments identify activities related to riskassessment and develop hazard litigation plans for their respectivejurisdiction, the developed mitigation plan will need formal approvalfrom FEMA in order to qualify for pre and post disaster funding. Inturn, once approved, the lead federal agency in charge becomeseligible for funding under the Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) programand Hazard Mitigation Grant Funds (FEMA, 2001). According to (FEMA,2004) “the function is to establish comprehensive regimes forbuilding cooperation among state agencies and between state and localgovernment planning and regulation” (p.141).&nbsp PDM funds may beused by local governments for revisions to previous FEMA HazardMitigation Plan.&nbsp

Examining the roles of staff members andresources needed in order to complete mitigation plans can become atask on its own. The fewer resources local communities have, the lesslikely it’ll be to incorporate a successful multi-hazard mitigationplan. Prater and Lindell (2000) state “local governments withlimited organizational capacity, including limited staff resourcesand financial resources find mitigation planning to be a burdensomedemand” (p.4). Additionally, Hazard mitigation planning requiresmultiple skills set and diverse training.&nbsp Statewide assessmentsmade from local-level analysis ensures a consistent level ofcommunication and information exchange between local and stategovernments.&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp

Assessing the Risk

Local governments would be set with thetasks of risk assessment for the local and regional levels andprovide the information assessed to states in order to gain a greaterunderstanding of the vulnerabilities with the highest risk. Inreturn, the state will be able to identity which resources can bemost effective, then, they will properly allocate resources across tothe areas with greatest risk. Understanding the areas with thegreatest risk will allow the state to provide leadershipopportunities by setting guidelines and expectations for theinformation needed for successful mitigation planning activities.

FEMA’s Multi hazard MitigationPrograms

Hazard Mitigation Grant Program

The HazardMitigation Grant Program (HMGP) is one of FEMA’s multi hazardmitigation programs and indeed has been theFEMA’sfirst and biggest multi hazard mitigation program. It is a postdisaster program that has delivered a big part of the mitigation aidgiven to the communities and the states. With the help of HMGP, areasof the country announced by the President to have experience disasterreceive funding for mitigation projects.

Fundsfrom the HMGP is mainly used to device “brick and mortar” planswhich includes obtaining possessions in hazard-prone areas and one orthe other annihilating the related building or moving the building orstructure to an area exterior to the areas that are hazard-prone,execution of alterations to structures, like strengthening of walls,roofs and foundations of the structure, to guard them from highwinds, floods and other naturally occurring hazards, construction of“new storm water drainage systems and other flood control Projects”and lastly, construction of protective structures, like the saferooms within schools in areas which are prone to tornadoes, toguarantee more the safety of the people (Hecker, 2002).

TheHMGP has been proven to be effective in motivating deeds to lessenthe effects of natural hazards, mainly since it takes benefit of a“window of opportunity” that happens in the post disasterenvironment. According to the state hazard mitigation officials saidthat the community and state’s obligation in helping financially aswell as the execution of mitigation plans is expected after the saidstates and localities have personally experienced such disastersbecause they discern the necessity of effective mitigations plans,thus will contribute financially.

The Project Impact Program

Since HMGP is more focused on postdisaster mitigation plans, FEMA also has pre-disaster projects. Oneof these is the Project Impact Program. This program deliversmitigation aids straight to societies in each state, notwithstandingof whether the said state had experienced a disaster. Societies haveused this project in huge portions on the preparations and executionsof activities made and intended in helping the public througheducating them and at the same time the promotion of mitigation tothem, the assessment of risks and identification of possiblemitigation projects, and giving the opportunity of havingpartnerships and influential resources. The said project has beenproven to be successful in aggregating the consciousness of the wholecommunity for mitigation planning because of the project’s fundingon the said activities.

In 1997-2001, this program has provided$77 million to the community. The funding of this project, incontrast to the HMGP, is not based on disaster occurrences but isdesigned to engage every state and community to contributefinancially to the program. Since 2001, around two hundred fifty(250) communities are participating in the said program, eachreceiving funding amounting between $60,000and $1,000,000. The communities involved have the responsibility ofchoosing the mitigation plans that will use the received funding. Atthe same time, like that of the HMGP, the community itself needs toprovide one fourth of the chosen mitigation plan costs.

An edge of the programis its highlighting on evolving partnerships between the public andprivate sector in helping their respective community on theirmitigation necessities. It is believed that the participation of theprivate sector, not just the government sector, in addressing theconcerns of their community, produces more efficient mitigationplans. An example of this is the involvement of the Deerfield Beachin the mitigation activities in Florida. They have mounted “impactresistance glass” and stronger roofs made of concrete in all oftheir structures to become safer in case of disasters. The saidcompany also funded shutters for the houses of the unfortunateelderly residents within the area. Likewise, in North Carolina, thereis a distribution of “hurricane preparedness and mitigationbrochures” by a locally homed improvement store. The said store isalso a chief sponsor of the “Hurricane Preparedness Expo” whichis intended to educating and assisting the community on itsmitigation plans (Hecker, 2002).

Anotheredge of this program is its efforts on the planning phase – whichis considered a crucial part of the mitigation efforts. This projecthas been helping the community in recognizing “vulnerabilities,assessing risks, and developing and prioritizing mitigation projectsto address their needs “(Hecker, 2002, p.15). Without the fundingof this program, some of the communities would not come up with thedevelopment of their respective mitigation strategies. In ChattoogaCounty in Georgia, the said program delivered funds and at the sametime technical aid that helped them in assessing their communityrisks and making their localized mitigation strategy. The result is aproject connecting six different water systems in the area that canbe used in the instance of drought.

Thesaid project also is helpful in getting additional funds from theprivate industry for the operation of such mitigation. The communityparticipation on the Project Impact Program became an attractive movefor the private sector to support the communities’ goals. Anexample of this is the community of Centerville in Utah, wherein theyacquired around half a million dollars in 1998 that has been used togenerate meeting and outreach seminars with the community businessesthe government to ask for more funding. This move gave them another 2million dollars which enabled their city in addressing theirmitigation necessities. One of these is the improvement and upgradingof their drainage system. Another is the elimination of thedownstream flood hazard through construction of a debris basin.Lastly, they funded also the retrofitting of the buildings to becomesafer counter to possible earthquakes. (FEMA, 2006a)

TheFlood Mitigation Assistance

TheFlood Mitigation Assistance Program (FMAP) was produced as a portionof the National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994. Its definitepurpose is to eliminate or reduce privileges under the National FloodInsurance Program (NFIP). The FMAP offers funding to help states andcommunities in executing actions to reduce or eradicate the“long-term risk of flood damage to buildings, manufactured homes,and other structures insurable under the National Flood InsuranceProgram” (Rose et al, 2009, p.99). Yearly funding of around $20million from the National Flood Insurance Fund is allocated to statesthat, in turn, compel it to societies.

Benefits of FEMAapproved mitigation plans

Rose et. Al (2007)enumerated the benefits of hazard mitigation plans (approved by theFEMA) to the community. The following are the said benefits: thereduction of straightforward property damages like pipelines,buildings and bridges, the reduction of direct and indirect businessdisruption (such as factory shut down and the ordinary economiceffects), the reduction of nonmarket environmental damage (on theparks wildlife and wetlands), also reduction of other nonmarketdamages such as in historical sites, the reduction of incidences ofdeaths, homelessness and injuries and lastly, the reduction ofemergency responses (e.g. fire protection and ambulance services). Inaddition, there are also funds that are acquired from FEMA during thepre-disaster and post-disaster incidences that would help the localcommunity.


Fromthe discussions of this paper, from the different types of hazards tothe FEMA mitigation plans, it can be concluded that the FEMA approvedmitigation plans is very encouraged to be implemented in all thecountry since it offers long term recovery and at the same timeaddresses the detailed needs of the mitigation efforts.


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