FEMA Releases New State Mitigation Plan Review Guide

Posted on: March 11th, 2015 by Jessica Unger | SHEP

FEMA recently announced the release of the new State Mitigation Plan Review Guide (“Guide”). The updated Guide clarifies federal regulations that apply to FEMA; policy; and guidance around state hazard mitigation plan for state agencies and other officials developing mitigation plans. The Guide helps ensure a consistent plan review process for FEMA and the states that aim to improve the analysis and integration of evolving risks, such as climate change. The Guide will go into effect in approximately one year on March 6, 2016, for all state mitigation plans submitted to FEMA for review and approval. The transitional period allows time for FEMA and the states to work together to support their familiarity and understanding of the updated Guide. Indian tribal governments should follow the Tribal Multi-Hazard Mitigation Planning Guidance.

We bring this to your attention because states will need to take a holistic approach and include not only emergency management, but also the sectors of economic development, land use and development, housing, health and social services, infrastructure, and natural and cultural resources, in their planning process and mitigation program, where practicable.

Mitigation plans help state, tribal, and local governments identify risks and vulnerabilities associated with natural disasters and establish a long-term strategy for protecting people and property in future hazards events. The Stafford Act requires an approved hazard mitigation plan as a condition for receiving certain types of non-emergency disaster assistance, including funding for mitigation projects.

Some of the most recent updates to the Guide include the following:

– States must continue to enhance risk assessments by considering how future risk and vulnerability may be affected by changing climatic conditions, new community development patterns, and population growth.

– To better reduce risk and enhance resilience, states must take a holistic approach and include not only emergency management, but also the sectors of economic development, land use and development, housing, health and social services, infrastructure, and natural and cultural resources, in their planning process and mitigation program, where practicable.

– Hazard mitigation plans must now be adopted by the highest elected official or designee in the state.

– A mitigation program consultation will be available to states to promote dialogue between FEMA and the state and to identify progress and challenges, as well as specific needs and opportunities for achieving mitigation goals.

– The updated Guide also sets forth the standard operating procedures for the submission and review of both the standard and enhanced state mitigation plans.

– Lastly, the Guide’s requirements section have been streamlined and a state mitigation plan review “tool”  has been developed to offer an opportunity to provide more comprehensive feedback to the state during the review process.

Visit FEMA’s Multi-Hazard Mitigation Planning page to view the Guide and for additional resources that support states in updating state mitigation plans as well as building and maintaining statewide mitigation programs.

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