Natural hazard mitigation is defined as any action taken before, during or after a disaster or emergency to permanently eliminate or reduce the long-term risk to human life and property from natural hazards or disasters. It is an essential element of emergency management, along with preparedness, response and recovery. When successful, mitigation will lessen the need for a community to respond to succeeding natural hazard events; that is, incidents will remain incidents and not become disasters.
Local Government Role
The implementation of natural hazard mitigation measures is a local government function since that is the level at which development occurs, and most of the land use / development tools available to implement mitigation measures are applied at the local level. Therefore, successful implementation of a program to reduce or eliminate the negative consequences of Michigan’s natural hazards will, out of necessity, be a joint cooperative effort between the State, local governments, and the private sector (since most land development is undertaken by private entities).
Natural Hazard Mitigation Makes Financial Sense
FEMA invests millions annually in hazard mitigation programs. With the general belief that mitigation saves money but with limited hard evidence as to the magnitude of the long-term benefits, Congress mandated that FEMA commission an independent study to ensure that its investments are paying off. The study, which was conducted by the Applied Technology Council and overseen by the Multi-Hazard Mitigation Council of the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), began in 2000 and was delivered to Congress in December 2005. The NIBS study results are impressive and overwhelmingly demonstrate that hazard mitigation is worth the investment. On average, the study found that hazard mitigation activities pay off to the tune of $4 of savings for every $1 invested.
Updating the Plans!
Each County is currently undergoing the update process for the previously adopted individual natural hazard mitigation plans (see below). Please contact your county’s emergency director to become involved in the updating process!