The Hazard Mitigation Planning Process

Our phased planning process has developed to ensure strict compliance with the Code of Federal Regulations 44 CFR 201.6, and DMA 2000. The passage of DMA 2000 requires proactive pre-disaster planning as a condition of receiving certain financial assistance under the Robert T. Stafford Act.  DMA 2000 encourages state and local authorities to work together on pre-disaster planning, and it promotes “sustainable hazard mitigation,” which includes the sound management of natural resources, local economic and social resiliency, and the recognition that hazards and mitigation must be understood in the largest possible social and economic context.   The enhanced planning network called for by the DMA helps local governments accurately assess mitigation needs, resulting in faster allocation of funding and more cost-effective risk reduction projects.

For addition guidance on the Hazard Mitigation Plan planning process, check out FEMA’s Local Mitigation Planning Handbook.

Phase 1- Organize Resources (Project Planning)

Project Planning (organizing resources) is the first step for the HMP update process.  Essential steps of this milestone include establishing a Project Management (PM) Team and a Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) Planning Committee (Requirement §201.6(b)(2)). Additionally, this step includes the development of a public outreach strategy (Requirement §201.6(b)(1)) and the review and incorporation of existing plans, studies, reports, and other technical data/information (Requirement §201.6(b)(3)).


Phase One Checklist:

□ Prepare (e)mailing list and invitations for proposed LHMP Planning Committee members (document all invitations as required by Requirement §201.6(b)(2))
□ Review previous plan including hazard profiles, planning process and mitigation actions
□ Conduct Planning Committee Kick-off Meeting
□ Document the planning process and all stakeholder meetings, including how it was prepared and who was involved in the process for each jurisdiction (Requirement §201.6(c)(1))
□ Develop information on jurisdictional website (see our template here)
□ Develop Outreach Strategy (see our Outreach page)


Feel free to explore each step of Phase 1 in detail below!


Build Planning Team

When considering resources and how to organize them, it is important to establish the various participation/engagement levels of the stakeholder groups in your jurisdiction (Requirement §201.6(b)(2)). The figure below shows the recommended levels of participation intensity for each group that will participate in the HMP planning process. The figure below shows the recommended levels of participation intensity for each group that will participate in the HMP planning process.



Project Management Team

At the core of the HMP planning process is the Project Management (PM) Team, which serves as the backbone of the planning process and will work with the HMP Planning Committee to provide direction for the development of the updated HMP.  The formation of the PM Team is important and its composition is integral in ensuring the success of the HMP Update planning process, follow-on implementation, and future plan maintenance. Recommended PM Team members should represent the jurisdiction’s staff who serve as key decision-makers on the project.

Planning Committee

The HMP Planning Committee is used to guide the process and ensure the mitigation plan meets the goals of the community or operational area and the State and Federal Hazard Mitigation Plan requirements. With support from the PM Team, identify a group of dedicated and interested individuals to become members of the HMP Planning Committee.


Engage the same stakeholders who were involved in the creation of the previous HMP for their input and historical experience.
The Planning Committee:

  • Attends/actively participates in a series of structured coordination meetings
  • Assists in the collection of valuable local information and other requested data
  • Makes decisions on plan process and content
  • Identifies mitigation actions for the HMP
  • Reviews/provides comments on plan drafts
  • Coordinates/participates in public input process

It is recommended to meet with your Planning Committee during certain phases of update process and also inform partners that have authorities to make regulatory changes. It might be a good idea to recognize the Planning Committee officially with a Board of Supervisors, City Council or other governing board within your community or operational area. Click here for Planning Committee Resolution templates.


Once the HMP Planning Committee has been established and finalized, the following items should be prepared and further incorporated into the HMP Update document (Requirement §201.6(c)(1)):
1) A list of individual participants and organizations involved in the planning process and a description of their roles.

2) A discussion of past participation of individual participants and organizations in the previously adopted plan.

Note: The items above belong in the “Planning Process” description of the Plan which is a required component.

Stakeholders and the Public

In addition to the Planning Committee you may have interested stakeholders that may provide technical knowledge or have a vetted interest in reducing risk within the community or operational area.  Stakeholders can consist of subject matter experts who work in other departments within your jurisdiction and non- government representatives (i.e., Fire Safe Councils, Neighborhood Watches) who play integral roles or have a stake in the mitigation of hazard risk.  Think of the public, including residents and property owners from the flood and other hazard prone properties/areas, businesses, civic groups, academia, non-profit organizations/groups, major employers, managers of critical facilities, farmers, developers, and others outside governmental agencies (Requirement §201.6(b)(1)).


Remember, not all of these agencies/organizations will be able (or have) to participate as part of the HMP Planning Committee.  However, an opportunity for these agencies/organizations to be involved in the planning process needs to be extended (via invitations to provide comments and/or for volunteers to serve on the HMP Planning Committee).


Use this worksheet to identify partner organizations to invite to participate on the planning team. Some organizations do not need to be involved in every decision of the planning process but are stakeholders that require outreach and involvement during the planning process. Revise the list of general partners in the worksheet to reflect the organizations in your community. Mark which organizations will be invited to participate on the planning team and which will be involved through stakeholder outreach activities.

Meeting Coordination and Prescription

Monthly Coordination Meetings. The HMP Project Management (PM) Team should meet monthly (if not more) to coordinate during the development of the HMP Update. It’ a good idea to develop a reoccurring meeting for coordination purposes, this meeting can be conducted via conference call for convenience.


In addition to monthly coordination meetings, four (4) jurisdictional working sessions should be conducted to develop specific and required content in your plan. Each working session will be conducted and facilitated by the PM Team (it might help to have the consultant facilitate these sessions). These working sessions will be used to (a) document involvement, (b) provide training to staff about the hazard mitigation process, and (c) complete iterative (and required) steps toward developing sound mitigation implementation strategies. A sample meeting table is provided below to provide possible working session topics.


Review/Incorporate Existing Plans, Studies, Reports, and Other Technical Data/Information

Work with the HMP Planning Committee to review and assess existing plans, studies, and data available from local, state and federal sources. Look for:

  • Existing /Current Stormwater Management Plans
  • Existing/Current Watershed Plans
  • Existing/Current Habitat Conservation Plans
  • Existing/Current Drainage Plans
  • Existing/Current and Proposed Building Codes
  • Existing/Current and Proposed Roadway/Infrastructure Plans

All documents reviewed and assessed should be listed and include a discussion of the findings, noting incorporation of applicable existing plans, studies, reports, and technical information in the HMP Update document (Requirement §201.6(b)(3)). A discussion of the data sources used to provide information in the HMP Update should be included, as well as a summary of data limitations encountered and your jurisdictions could potentially overcome those limitations in the future.

Phase 2 - Risk Assessment

During Phase Two, each jurisdiction will identify the location and geographic extent of natural and human-made hazards that can affect their jurisdiction (Requirement §201.6(c)(2)(i)). A description for each identified hazard’s impact on the community as well as an overall summary of the community’s vulnerability to each of the identified hazards will be included (Requirement §201.6(c)(2)(ii)). Information on previous hazard occurrences and the probability of future hazard events will also be gathered (Requirement §201.6(c)(2)(i)). Scientific and anecdotal evidence of past events is collected and evaluated and the losses the community has sustained and hazards are ranked high to low.


Phase Two Checklist:

□ Gather information on local hazards based upon past profiles and your County’s Plan
□ Develop hazard profiles based upon hazards in the region and DMA 2000
□ Develop new risk assessment section (templates for jurisdictions coming soon)
Develop templates for climate change and human caused hazards. Templates can be found here.
□ Develop building/parcel inventory
□ Develop critical infrastructure inventory (linear and points)
□ Develop hazard information in spatial software
□ Set up Hazus risk modeling software
□ Address NFIP insured structures that have been repetively damaged by floods (Requirement §201.6(c)(2)(ii))


Feel free to explore each step of Phase 2 in detail below!


Identify and Profile Hazards

Assess Vulnerabilities

Inventory and Summarize Vulnerable Assets

Estimate Loss

Phase 3 - Update Mitigation Strategy

During Phase 3, a jurisdiction’s capabilities in emergency management, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) (Requirement §201.6(c)(3)(ii)), planning and regulatory authority, administrative and technical knowledge, finances, and politics are assessed.  Based upon capabilities and the risk assessment, a prescription of hazard mitigation activities will be explained and developed Requirement §201.6(c)(3)(ii) and Requirement §201.6(c)(3)(iv). During this phase existing goals, objectives, and actions and are evaluated and updated as needed. The HMP Planning Team defines appropriate mitigation techniques, and chooses and prioritizes mitigation actions and projects in the Mitigation Action Plan.


Phase Three Checklist:

□ Review your past HMP goals and objectives and analyze any progress made toward goal achievement
□ Perform a capabilities assessment and review your participation in the NFIP (Requirement §201.6(c)(3)(ii))
□ Use the above assessment to create goals to reduce/avoid long-term vulnerabilities to the identified hazards (Requirement §201.6(c)(3)(i))
□ Identify mitigation actions and techniques for your jurisdiction (Requirement §201.6(c)(3)(ii) and Requirement §201.6(c)(3)(iv))
□ Create a Mitigation Action Plan that prioritizes your actions and explains how they will be implemented and administered (Requirement §201.6(c)(3)(iv)) and (Requirement §201.6(c)(3)(iii))


Feel free to explore each step of Phase 3 in detail below!


Identify Goals

Work closely with the HMP Planning Committee members to review the past HMP goals and objectives and analyze any progress made toward goal achievement.  Based on the results of the Hazards Profiles and Vulnerability Assessment, as well as the Capabilities Assessment, the Project Team along with the HMP Planning Committee are required to identify the mitigation goals and objectives to reduce or avoid long-term vulnerabilities to the identified hazards (Requirement §201.6(c)(3)(i)).  An updated set of mitigation goals and objectives can include revised goals and objectives based on current conditions, and any new/additional identified goals and objectives.  The Data Collection Guide includes a Goals and Objective Worksheet to assist HMP Planning Committee members in the review of existing mitigation plan goals and objectives.  Results from this exercise should be incorporated into the HMP Update and are as follows:

  • A summary table of information collected from the Goal and Objective Review Worksheets completed by HMP Planning Committee participants.
  • Compilation of Goal and Objective Review Worksheets completed by HMP Planning Committee participants.
  • A narrative of the evaluation of the updated risk and capability assessments and existing goals and objectives.
  • A list of updated mitigation goals and objectives.

Develop Capabilities Assessment

A capabilities assessment is a comprehensive review of all the various mitigation capabilities and tools currently available to implement the mitigation actions that are prescribed in the mitigation plan (Requirement §201.6(c)(3)).  Mitigation capabilities and tools include legislative authorities (i.e., municipal codes, ordinances, capital improvement programs, plans, studies, etc.), administrative/ technical capabilities (jurisdictional government departments/agencies, consultants, associations/groups, etc.), and fiscal capabilities (i.e., capital improvement bonds, development impact fees, etc.).  The Project Team should work with the HMP Planning Committee to compile the information and data for the Capabilities Assessment.  This section will also provide a narrative describing mitigation outreach, partnerships, and other efforts.

A Capabilities Assessment Worksheet is included in this Data Collection Guide and will be distributed to Project Management Team and HMP Planning Committee members. Completed worksheets will be compiled and inserted into the HMP Update document as an appendix.  The information from the Capabilities Assessment Worksheets will be analyzed and the following items will be completed and incorporated into the MHMP Update document:

  • A capability inventory which includes a table of planning tools (comprehensive plan, building code, floodplain ordinance – NFIP participant, subdivision and land development ordinance, zoning ordinance) adopted by the jurisdiction (Requirement §201.6(c)(3)).
  • Descriptions of all of the planning mechanisms and local capabilities currently in place in your jurisdiction and how each aids hazard mitigation efforts. The descriptions will be organized in the following sub-categories:  Emergency Management; Participation in the NFIP (Requirement §201.6(c)(3)(ii)); Planning and Regulatory Capability; Administrative and Technical Capability; Fiscal Capability; Political Capability; and Self-Assessment.
  • A summary of existing limitations to hazard mitigation. This can include limitations related to community participation in programs, plan adoption, funding, and authority to carry out mitigation projects.  Actions for obtaining data needed to complete or improve future risk analysis efforts must be included in the mitigation strategy.

Review Past/Current Mitigation Actions

As part of the HMP update planning process, the Project Management Team and the HMP Planning Committee will review and analyze the status of the mitigation actions identified in the previous HMP.  The HMP Planning Committee should provide data and information on the status of each mitigation action.  For each mitigation action, the Mitigation Action Status Summary Worksheet in the Data Collection Guide has been developed to collect information about progress, barriers/problems encountered, effective/successful aspects, revisions or further actions, inclusion in the updated HMP, and suggestions for new mitigation actions.  This information will be used to develop a table of the updated HMP mitigation actions summarizing whether each one is complete, ongoing, or has not started, and whether it is included in the updated HMP.  The results of this exercise will be incorporated into the HMP Update and include:

  • A summary table of information collected from the Mitigation Action Status Summary Worksheets completed by members of the HMP PM Team as part of the review process.
  • Compilation of Mitigation Action Status Summary Worksheets completed by members of the HMP Planning Team as part of the review process.

Identify New Mitigation Actions

Once a review and analysis of the previous HMP mitigation actions has been completed, the PM Team and the HMP Planning Committee will work together to identify and develop new mitigation actions during a brainstorming session (Requirement §201.6(c)(3)(i)).  Mitigation actions will address reducing the effects of the identified hazards on existing and/or new structures, and will fall into one or more of the following hazard mitigation approaches:

  • Prevention
  • Property Protection
  • Public Education and Awareness
  • Natural Resources Protection
  • Structural Project Implementation
  • Emergency Services

The PM Team will assist in developing innovative and environmentally sensitive mitigation actions that, to the greatest extent possible, have low or zero impact.  Additionally, the PM Team will work with the HMP Planning Committee to develop mitigation actions that align with current and near-term mitigation capabilities.  Mitigation actions will also be developed with consideration for potential future state or federal funding through capital improvement bond programs and/or mitigation grant programs.  The Data Collection Guide includes a Mitigation Action Worksheet to record potential mitigation projects.

Phase 4 - Implementation & Maintenance Strategy

In Phase 4, your jurisdiction will draft the HMP in accordance with DMA, FEMA’s 44 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 201 and 206, and Multi-Hazard Mitigation Planning Guidance. Once the Risk Assessment and Mitigation Plan steps of the planning process have been completed, incorporate the information, data, and associated narratives into the Draft HMP Update.


Phase 4 Checklist:
Prepare draft HMP
□ Review actions taken since the last HMP (if applicable) and incorporate into plan update
□ Develop a methodology for monitoring the completion of mitigation actions
□ Develop a strategy for implementing the HMP into other planning processes (Requirement §201.6(c)(4)(ii))
□ Come up with a strategy to continue public participation in the plan maintenance process (Requirement §201.6(c)(4)(iii))
Develop a method and schedule for keeping the plan current over the 5 year cycle (Requirement §201.6(c)(4)(i))


Feel free to explore each step of Phase 4 in detail below!


Prepare narratives to complete the Draft HMP Update which will include following sections:

  • Introduction – to include background section containing information about hazard mitigation planning and plan preparation; description of the purpose for hazard mitigation plan development; description of the scope for the plan including what topics the plan covers and its geographic extent; and a list of federal, state, and local authorities and references.
  • Jurisdiction Background – Description provided below.
  • Planning Process – to include the review and analysis of the previous HMP, the HMP Planning Committee formation and roles/responsibilities, the public involvement strategy and results, and review/incorporation of previous studies, plans, technical documents, etc.
  • Hazard Profiles and Vulnerability Assessments—developed based on the exercises detailed above.
  • Mitigation Plan—developed based on the exercises detailed above.
  • Plan Maintenance – Description provided below.
  • Appendices – Description provided below.

The Background Section is a community profile and will include the following:

  • A description of your jurisdiction’s geographical location, land area, topography, water features, and areas that provide natural and beneficial functions (i.e., wetlands, riparian areas, sensitive areas, and habitat for rare/endangered species) in the designated section of the hazard mitigation plan.
  • A base map for your jurisdiction, showing municipal boundaries, major roads, railroads, water bodies, and surrounding counties.
  • A description of your jurisdiction that includes history, major industries, landmarks, and other places or information of interest.
  • A summary of the demographics within your jurisdiction, including population, population density, racial composition, age breakdown, income, and housing, presented in the designated location in the hazard mitigation plan.
  • A summary of the growth trends in your jurisdiction, including population growth, changing land use, and the overall extent of developed area, presented in the designated location in the hazard mitigation plan.
  • A map of existing land use for your jurisdiction.

Plan Maintenance

The Plan Maintenance Section serves as the basis for subsequent updates to the HMP and should define the processes by which continued public participation will be guaranteed (Requirement §201.6(c)(4)(iii)). Review monitoring, evaluation, and updating activities undertaken since the approval of the previous Hazard Mitigation Plan and incorporate this information into the HMP Update.  Based on this review, identify the lessons learned and prepare a description of the methodology and schedule for monitoring the completion of mitigation activities, evaluating the effectiveness of the mitigation plan in attaining plan goals and objectives, and updating the plan within the five-year cycle (Requirement §201.6(c)(4)(i)). Incorporate a discussion on how the previous HMP was incorporated into other planning mechanisms over the last five years (Requirement §201.6(c)(4)(ii)).  Using this knowledge, describe how the updated mitigation strategy will be integrated with other strategies, goals, and objectives in existing plans, reports, and other implementation tools. Lastly, review the public participation activities undertaken since the approval of the previous HMP and provide them to assist with future plan maintenance activities. Create tables that the Steering Committee can use to document annual meetings to review the hazard mitigation plan each year, changes made to the plan, mitigation actions completed, or public outreach completed. Components of the Plan Maintenance Section of the HMP Update include:

  • A description of the methodology including scheduling for monitoring the completion of mitigation activities, evaluating the effectiveness of the mitigation plan in attaining plan goals and objectives, and updating the plan within the five-year cycle. Documentation should include an identification of the department(s) and/or individuals responsible for maintenance (Requirement§201.6(c)(3)(iv) and Requirement §201.6(c)(3)(iii)).
  • Tables documenting annual meetings held by the HMP Planning Committee to review the hazard mitigation plan each year and changes made to the plan, mitigation actions completed, or public outreach completed.
  • A description of how other local planning mechanisms and/or governments utilized and incorporated the hazard mitigation plan information into other planning processes in the previous five-year cycle, and how they will incorporate mitigation strategies and other information from the plan into future planning processes.
  • A description of how public participation will be maintained, including notification of opportunities provided to the broader public whose members may not be part of the planning process (Requirement §201.6(c)(4)(ii)).


Appendices will include all documentation compiled to support the planning process throughout. Once all these sections are completed, compile them into an Administrative Draft HMP and submit to the HMP Planning Committee for review.  After the 2-week County Review Period, incorporate any comments to prepare the Public Review Draft.  Once the Public Review Draft is completed, make it available for public review and comment. See the Public Outreach Strategy for public review strategies and requirements.

Phase 5 - Draft Plan Update

During Phase 5, your draft plan will be reviewed, evaluated and implemented.


Phase 5 Checklist:
Integrate the templates into a draft plan
Ensure the draft plan was revised to reflect changes in development (Requirement §201.6(d)(3))
Document the planning process, including how it was prepared and who was involved in the process for each jurisdiction (Requirement §201.6(c)(1))
Ensure the draft plan was revised to reflect progress in local mitigation efforts (Requirement §201.6(d)(3))
Ensure the draft plan was revised to reflect changes in priorities (Requirement §201.6(d)(3))
Make necessary updates and technical edits


Plan Review



Phase 6 - Review/Adoption

Phase 6 Checklist:
Share the draft plan with the planning committee and the public for review/comments
Make required edits and rewrites
Formally adopt the plan
Document formal plan adoption (Requirement §201.6(c)(5)) and (Requirement §201.6(c)(5))


Integrate Manmade (non-natural) Hazards

Review Final Draft with Planning Committee and Public