A Hazard Mitigation Plan forms the foundation for a community's long-term strategy to reduce disaster losses and break the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage. The planning process is as important as the plan itself. It creates a framework for risk-based decision making to reduce damages to lives, property, and the economy from future disasters.
Georgia’s unique geographic location exposes the state and its citizens to severe weather at any time of the year. Georgia is one of the few places where regional weather conditions may include snow and ice accumulations along with lightning and tornadoes from the same storm event. The State of Georgia has averaged a federal disaster declaration about once a year in the last fifteen years. How can we protect and prepare ourselves for the next natural disaster to strike Georgia? One answer is Mitigation Planning.
The United States Congress, in 2000, adopted the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA2K), providing Federal funding for the development of State and local hazard mitigation plans and projects. Congress now requires states and local governments to develop DMA2K compliant plans in order to be eligible for Federal hazard mitigation project funding. These plans are reviewed and approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA), Hazard Mitigation Division, coordinates the update of the State Hazard Mitigation Plan and provides technical assistance to state agencies and local governments in developing their hazard mitigation plans and projects.
Mitigation's Value to Society
FEMA Region IV Hazard Mitigation Planning Toolkit
Georgia Mitigation Information System:
The Hazard Mitigation Division, with the assistance of the Information Technology Outreach Services (ITOS), a Division of the Carl Vinson Institute at the University of Georgia, developed a database with a high level of statewide data on natural hazards called the Georgia Mitigation Information System (GMIS). GMIS supports the documentation and implementation of mitigation activities through the State of Georgia through mapping and reporting of Critical Facilities, Mitigated Properties, and National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Properties. Currently, critical facilities information is available for querying, information gathering, and reporting. Cities and counties are now able to utilize and incorporate this data for their local Hazard Mitigation plan.
To meet the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA2K) planning requirements, local governments need to collect detailed structure and building information. This system provides a system the counties can enter information about their critical facilities, including coordinates, replacement value, etc. These facilities can then be reported by the hazard zones they fall within. These reports, along with custom hazard maps generated by the system, can be imported directly into the county’s mitigation plans.
Through the completion of the local hazard mitigation plans, counties and municipalities, with the coordination of GEMA’s Hazard Mitigation staff, can maintain eligibility for disaster assistance in the event of future disasters.
Governor’s Commendation for Excellence in Customer Service:
In February 2011, the Hazard Mitigation Planning Team proudly accepted the Governor’s Commendation for Excellence in Customer Service award, for their efforts in helping all 159 counties in Georgia, develop their initial Hazard Mitigation Plans. Also, for the Hazard Mitigation Division’s efforts in the development and management of its grants management system and the development of the enhanced portion of the State Hazard Mitigation Plan, the State was awarded the status of “Enhanced State” by FEMA. This award enables the state to receive 33% more HMGP funding in the event of presidentially declared disasters. Over 70 counties involved in the spring and fall floods of 2009, received $9.8 million more in HMGP funding because of this award. Georgia is one of only ten states in the nation to hold this status. On March 2, 2011, FEMA reapproved our Enhanced State status for another three years.
Pictured L to R: Charley English, Director, Georgia Emergency Management Agency; Alan Sloan, Planner; Dee Langley, Planning Program Manager; Nathan Deal, Governor, Kelly Keefe, Planner; Terry Lunn, Hazard Mitigation Division Director; Scott Sherman, Planner.