What is Hazard Mitigation?

Hazard Mitigation is defined as “sustained action that reduces or eliminates long‐term risk to people and property from natural hazards and their effects.” (FEMA: National Mitigation Strategy, 1995). This is an ongoing effort to lessen the potential for natural hazards to become disasters as such hazards do not become disasters until they collide with the human, or “built”, environment. Through the application of mitigation technologies and practices, Buncombe County can ensure that fewer of its citizens become victims of these disasters. (www.fema.gov/mit/whatmit.htm).

The definition of Hazard Mitigation referenced above differentiates actions that have a long-term impact from those actions that are more closely associated with preparedness for, immediate response to, and short‐term recovery from a specific event. This definition intentionally focuses on actions that produce repetitive benefits over time in an effort to encourage a pro‐active, rather than reactive, approach to dealing with natural hazards. This also involves the realization that funding spent on mitigation measures will reduce the economic disaster that often accompanies the natural hazard event through destruction of property, loss or interruption of jobs, and closing or disabling businesses. (www.ncem.org/mitigation/page3.html).


Purpose of a Hazard Mitigation Plan

A local Hazard Mitigation Plan establishes the community’s commitment to mitigation goals, objectives, policies and programs. By stating the goals and objectives that the jurisdiction hopes to achieve, the plan can help to create an important connection between the public interest and the proposed mitigation strategy. A local Hazard Mitigation Plan also serves as a vehicle to educate the public regarding natural hazards and mitigation practices, thereby increasing public awareness of the risks facing them as residents of the community as well as tools and resources available for reducing those risks. Such a plan, then, serves as a guide for the implementation of goals, objectives, policies, and programs as it also educates the community. The preparation and adoption of a local Hazard Mitigation Plan is also a requirement for receiving many types of mitigation and post‐disaster recovery funds. (NCDEM: Local Hazard Mitigation Planning Manual, November 1998).