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Frazier, Walker, Kumari, & Thompson (2013). Opportunities and constraints to hazard mitigation planning

Bibliographic details:

Frazier, T. G., Walker, M. H., Kumari, A., & Thompson, C. M. (2013). Opportunities and constraints to hazard mitigation planning. Applied Geography, 40, 52-60.


Hazard mitigation plans (HMPs) play a critical role in the reduction of societal loss from natural and human-caused hazards and disasters. The occurrence of hazardous events cannot be prevented but hazard mitigation planning when diligently applied has proven to be an effective tool for enhancing local community resilience and reducing societal losses. HMPs are planning documents that aim to increase community preparedness and resiliency, and decrease vulnerability in the event of a hazard. However, due to a variety of reasons many communities often fail to address criteria that could protect against future societal losses. For instance, minimum requirements, as stipulated by the Disaster Mitigation Act 2000, are all that is needed to qualify for federal mitigation grant funding regardless of plan quality or appropriateness of HMPs to local hazards and risks. Additionally local emergency managers and planners also face constraints like integration of HMPs into comprehensive plans and a standardized tool to evaluate plan quality. In essence most communities in the US have HMPs but lack a method of evaluating the quality and effectiveness of their plans for mitigating hazards. Building on the standard HMP minimum requirements, additional criteria established in prominent hazard literature, and information culled from interviews, this study develops an evaluation matrix to assess local HMP quality. Based on the factors mentioned above, researchers explored the opportunities and constraints to HMP development faced by jurisdictions within our Western Washington study area. Conclusions reveal that available resources, level of sophistication, and political complexities affect the quality of HMP development and the actual implementation of mitigation planning strategies.