What is Hazard Mitigation?
Natural hazards have the potential to cause property damage, loss of life, economic hardship, and threats to public safety.
Hazard Mitigation measures are the things you do today to be more protected in the future. They are measures taken before a disaster happens to reduce the impact that future disaster will have on people and property in the community. Mitigation reduces the risk of loss and creates a more disaster-resistant and sustainable community. Hazard mitigation measures are essential to breaking the typical disaster cycle of damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage.
Purpose and Need for a Hazard Mitigation Plan
Hazard mitigation plans are developed BEFORE a disaster strikes. The plans identify community policies, actions, and tools for long-term implementation to reduce risk and potential for future losses. Adopted, implemented and maintained on an ongoing basis, these plans will gradually, but steadily, lessen the impacts associated with hazard events in Rockland County. Each town/village will have their own plan.
As of November 1, 2004, communities without a FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan are not eligible for FEMA project grant monies under programs such as the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), Flood Mitigation Assistance Program (FMA) and Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program (PDM).
To be recognized by FEMA as a "participating jurisdiction" in the overall county-wide plan, jurisdictions must:
- Participate actively in the planning process.
- Develop unique jurisdictional mitigation actions.
- Formally adopt the final plan.
Active participation involves attending meetings, providing feedback, and reaching out to the public and other key stakeholders in the community. They must comply with "Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000" (DMA 2000) which means they must either: (a) participate with the County in the multi-jurisdictional plan development process and formally adopt the final plan, or (b) prepare their own hazard mitigation plan.
While the primary advantage of having a mitigation plan in place is the jurisdiction's eligibility to apply for FEMA hazard mitigation project grant monies, participation has other advantages as well:
- Because Rockland County hired a consulting team to conduct the analyses and author the plan, participation involves relatively little effort on the part of jurisdictions.
- Because Rockland County has received Federal grant monies to develop the plan, participation involves no cost to local jurisdictions - only allocation of staff time to participate in the process.
- Multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plans are practical for addressing issues that do not recognize political boundaries.
- Over time, implementation of the plan will reduce economic damages resulting from future natural disasters.
Process to create the plan
- Research a full range of natural hazards.
- Identify subset of significant hazards; these will be the focus of the plan.
- Identify location and extent of hazard areas.
- Identify assets located within hazard area.
- Characterize existing and potential future assets at risk.
- Assess vulnerabilities to the identified hazards.
- Evaluate and prioritize goals, objectives, and hazard mitigation actions.
- Implement the plan and monitor its progress.
Structure of the plan
Elected and appointed government officials, business leaders, volunteers of non-profit organizations, citizens and other stakeholders who choose to participate will become part of our overall Rockland County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee. To keep meeting sizes to workable numbers, the Planning committee will be broken up into a Core Planning Group (CPG) and Jurisdictional Assessment Teams (JATs).
The CPG includes representatives from Rockland County and any of the county's jurisdictions who elect to participate in the process. The CPG will manage the overall plan formulation activities and contribute to the decision-making process. Representatives on the CPG will coordinate the plan efforts by organizing outreach by means of a team concept through the JATs.
The JATs include representatives from the individual participating jurisdictions. They will be responsible for local community involvement in the multi-jurisdictional mitigation plan.
Regardless of team, all participating jurisdictions must:
- Coordinate and facilitate local efforts.
- Attend meetings.
- Provide information and feedback.
- Involve the public and community stakeholders in the planning process.
- Assess mitigation alternatives.
- Select a course of action to be followed for their communities.
- Plan implementation, monitoring and updates.
Across the United States and around the world, natural disasters occur each day, as they have for thousands of years. As the world's population and development have increased, so have the effects of these natural disasters. The time and money required to recover from these events often strain or exhaust local resources. The purpose of hazard mitigation planning is to identify policies, actions, and tools for implementation that will, over time, work to reduce risk and the potential for future losses. Hazard mitigation is best realized when community leaders, businesses, citizens, and other stakeholders join together an in effort to undertake a process of learning about hazards that can affect their area and use this knowledge to prioritize needs and develop a strategy for reducing damages.
Section 322, Mitigation Planning, of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act ("the Stafford Act"), enacted by Section 104 of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 ("DMA 2000"), provides new and revitalized approaches to mitigation planning. Section 322 continues the requirement for a State mitigation plan as a condition of disaster assistance, and establishes a new requirement for local mitigation plans. In order to apply for Federal aid for technical assistance and post-disaster funding, local jurisdictions must comply with DMA 2000 and its implementing regulations (44 CFR Part 201.6).
While Rockland County has always sought ways to reduce their vulnerability to hazards, the passage of DMA 2000 helped County officials to recognize the benefits of pursuing a long-term, coordinated approach to hazard mitigation through hazard mitigation planning. The County has received grant funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the purpose of developing this hazard mitigation plan. Funding was received under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for development of a multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plan for the County and for many of its 24 municipalities that chose to participate. This Rockland County Multi-Jurisdictional Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan represents the collective efforts of the county and all 24 participating jurisdictions, the general public, and other stakeholders. Natural disasters cannot be prevented from occurring. However, over the long-term, the continued implementation of this Plan will gradually, but steadily, lessen the impacts associated with hazard events.
The Rockland County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan has been developed by the Rockland County Hazard Mitigation Planning Team (the "Planning Team"), with support from outside consultants. The efforts of the Planning Committee were headed by Christopher Jensen of the Rockland County Office of Fire and Emergency Services (RCOFES). The Planning Committee was supplemented by a Core Planning Group (CPG) and Jurisdictional Assessment Teams (JATs), with one JAT for each of the County's participating jurisdictions.
The plan development process was initiated in earnest in the fall of 2008 with the project initiation meeting held on October 15, 2008. A Kickoff Meeting of the full Core Planning Group was conducted on November 20, 2008. Thereafter, the Core Planning Group met on April 21, 2009; June 4, 2009; and June 18, 2009. Jurisdictional Assessment Teams met individually throughout the plan development process as they deemed necessary.
Community support is vital to the success of any hazard mitigation plan. The Planning Committee provided opportunities for participation and input of the public and other stakeholders throughout the plan development process, both prior to this Draft and before approval of the Final plan, providing citizens and other stakeholders with opportunities to take part in the decisions that will affect their future.
In the mitigation planning section of the Rockland County website, the RCOFES posted information on the plan development process and where to go for additional information or comments beginning in December 2008; this website has been and continues to be maintained and updated regularly.
The County also conducted numerous other outreach actions throughout the planning process. The public and other stakeholders were apprised of the hazard mitigation planning process through bi-weekly public service announcements between January and June of 2009 on County-owned radio station 1640AM, and via the posting of plan development status reports in municipal buildings. RCOFES also made it a point to speak of the mitigation planning process during regularly-scheduled public presentations on emergency preparedness initiatives. Jurisdictional Assessment Team members supplemented County efforts by reaching out to the public and other stakeholders within their respective jurisdictions to get the word out through various means and provide opportunities for feedback and participation.
The hazard mitigation planning process consisted of the following key steps:
• Researching a full range of natural hazards to identify which hazards could affect the County;
• Identifying the location and extent of hazard areas;
• Identifying assets located within these hazard areas;
• Characterizing existing and potential future assets at risk;
• Assessing vulnerabilities to the most prevalent hazards; and
• Formulation and prioritization of goals, objectives, and mitigation actions to reduce or avoid long-term vulnerabilities to the identified hazards.
Natural hazards that can affect Rockland County that were studied in detail in the Plan are as follows:
• Atmospheric hazards, including: extreme temperatures, extreme wind, hurricanes and tropical storms, nor'easters, tornadoes, and winter storms;
• Hydrologic hazards, including: flooding, drought, storm surges and dam failures;
• Geologic hazards, including: earthquakes and landslides; and
• Other hazards, including: wildfires.
After evaluating these hazards and assets within the County to which they are vulnerable, the Planning Team developed a mitigation strategy to increase the disaster resistance of the County, along with procedures for monitoring, evaluating and updating the Plan to ensure that it remains a "living document."
This Draft Plan is currently under review by the Planning Team, NYSEMO, FEMA, and the public and other stakeholders. Later, comments will be incorporated, and the County and all participating jurisdictions will each formally adopt the Final Plan. The Final Plan will include copies of adoption resolutions following Page i.
If you have any questions or comments on the Multi-Jurisdictional Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan for Rockland County, New York, additional information can be obtained by contacting:
Christopher Jensen, Program Coordinator
Rockland County Office of Fire and Emergency Services
35 Firemen's Memorial Drive
Pomona, NY 10970
- Rockland County Multi-Jurisdictional Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan (23MB, please allow extra time for downloading)
- Municipal Resolutions Adapting County's Multi-Jurisdictional Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan - lists each town's adoption date of the multi-jurisdictional plan.
- County Hazard Mitigation Plan - State of Authority Form - lists the members from each participating jurisdiction (JAT) in Rockland County.
- Hazard Mitigation Assistance Unified Guidance - FEMA brochure for hazard mitigation grant program.
- National Flood Insurance Program Historic Structures - Floodplain Management Bulletin that addresses how the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) treats historic structures. Also identifies mitigation measures that can be taken to protect historic structures from floods.
- National Flood Insurance Program January 2011 - Revisions made to the flood insurance plan effective January 1, 2011.