Local Hazard Mitigation Planning

Hazard Mitigation plans form the basis for a community's long-term strategy to reduce disaster losses. Hazard Mitigation breaks the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage.

Table of Contents

FEMA Hazard Mitigation Planning Policy Updates (2023)

On April 19, 2022, FEMA updated the State and Local Mitigation Planning Policy Guides (policies). The policies are the official interpretation of the mitigation planning requirements in the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act), as amended and other federal statutes as well as in federal regulations, specifically Title 44 CFR Part 201- Mitigation Planning. The policies become effective for all mitigation plan approvals starting on April 19, 2023. These updates advance FEMA’s shared goals and objectives. They are also a crucial step in implementing the FEMA Strategic Plan Objective 2.3 - Empower Risk-Informed Decision Making.

If your community has started or is about to start the process of updating or creating a Local Hazard Mitigation Plan you must meet the requirements outlined in the new Local Mitigation Planning Policy Guide. Any Plan submitted to FEMA moving forward must meet the new Policy Guide.

Below is a summary of changes under the new Local Mitigation Planning Policy Guide (reference full document for further guidance):

  • Defines who local governments must include in the planning process. This includes representatives from a broad range of sectors, community lifelines, the public and community-based organizations that support underserved communities. 
  • Requires local governments to include the effects of climate change and other future conditions in the risk assessment.
  • Recognizes the important role of adopting and enforcing building codes and land use and development ordinances in the local government’s ability to improve mitigation capabilities.
  • Facilitates stronger alignment with other FEMA mitigation programs such as the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), Community Rating System and flood risk mapping program.
  • Explains the need to right-size the scope of a plan update, consider both current and future risks, and complete the planning process with plan adoption. 
  • Includes existing mitigation plan requirements for the High Hazard Potential Dams (HHPD) grant program to include all dam risks. Removes the optional Repetitive Loss Strategy. 
  • Reorganized requirements for ease of use.

Additional Resources

Local Mitigation Planning Handbook and Additional Resources

Mitigation planning provides a framework local governments can build on to lessen the impacts of natural disasters. By encouraging whole-community involvement, assessing risk and using a range of resources, local governments can reduce risk to people, economies and natural environments. The Local Mitigation Planning Handbook (May 2023) guides local governments, including special districts, as they develop or update a hazard mitigation plan.

The Handbook is a companion to the Guide. The Guide helps local governments understand the requirements in the CFR. It also assists state and federal officials who provide training and technical assistance to local governments during their review and approval of local plans. The Handbook, on the other hand, gives advice and approaches for developing these plans.

Guide to Virtual Hazard Mitigation Planning Meetings 

The Guide to Virtual Hazard Mitigation Planning Meetings document details tips, resources, and potential platforms to facilitate and host effective virtual hazard mitigation planning meetings.

Additional Resources

Local Plans in Massachusetts

Plans are submitted to MEMA and FEMA Region 1 for review and approval. For more information, please contact MEMA's Mitigation Unit, at Mitigation@mass.gov.

How To Submit A Hazard Mitigation Plan To MEMA (Updated February 2023)

To view a copy of your community’s local hazard mitigation plan, check your community’s official website or contact your local Emergency Management Director.

Individuals interested in learning more about the hazard mitigation planning process can take FEMA’s online free training course IS-318.

HMGP-4496 Hazard Mitigation Planning Kickoff Meeting 1-16-2024 Recording


Additional Resources

Hazard Mitigation for Natural Disasters: A Starter Guide for Water and Wastewater Utilities

This US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) guide encourages water and wastewater utilities to work with their local mitigation planners to implement priority projects using FEMA or other source funding.

The guide provides an overview of the mitigation process, along with practical examples of mitigation projects to address the impacts of earthquakes, tornados, floods, drought, wildfires and power outages.

Download the US EPA Guide here: https://www.epa.gov/waterutilityresponse/hazard-mitigation-natural-disasters

Green Infrastructure and Hazard Mitigation Guide

EPA has released Storm Smart Cities, Integrating Green Infrastructure into Local Hazard Mitigation Plans, a guide that examines how communities can incorporate green infrastructure into local hazard planning efforts. The guide is a case study of efforts in Huntington, West Virginia, highlighting a local, state, and federal partnership and the collaborative effort to address local flooding and protect water quality.

FEMA HM Planning Resources

Sustainability in Mitigation Planning

FEMA Region 1 Good Practice Guides

This FEMA Region 1 Demonstrating Good Practices Within Local Hazard Mitigation Plans reference describes ideas which communities and planning staff can use in developing a federally approvable hazard mitigation plan. The twenty-one FEMA requirements are each addressed in separate guides within this one document. One additional guide offers an optional Table of Contents as an aid for communities organizing their plans.

FEMA also offers the following mitigation planning documents/tools:

Additional Resources

ResilientMass Plan (Massachusetts Integrated State Hazard Mitigation & Climate Adaptation Plan)

The ResilientMass Plan is the innovative 2023 update to the 2018 State Hazard Mitigation & Climate Adaptation Plan (SHMCAP). Approved by FEMA on September 15, 2023, the ResilientMass Plan identifies strategies and specific, measurable actions state agencies can take—individually or through interagency partnerships— to address risks to the human health and safety, communities, critical assets and infrastructure, natural resources, governance, and economy of the Commonwealth. The ResilientMass Plan aims to ensure the Commonwealth is prepared to withstand, rapidly recover from, adapt to, and mitigate natural hazard events.  

Read the Executive Summary:


The previous State Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Plan (SHMCAP) for the Commonwealth was adopted on September 17, 2018, in fulfillment of Governor Baker’s Executive Order 569 on climate changeThis plan, the first of its kind to comprehensively integrate climate change impacts and adaptation strategies with hazard mitigation planning, also complied with current federal requirements for state hazard mitigation plans, maintaining the Commonwealth’s eligibility for federal disaster recovery and hazard mitigation funding under the Stafford Act. The plan received FEMA approval and was effective 9/19/2018 through 9/18/2023. The plan can be viewed at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/massachusetts-integrated-state-hazard-mitigation-and-climate-adaptation-plan .

In early 2022, the Commonwealth began an update of the 2018 SHMCAP. The State Hazard Mitigation Team (SHMT) in conjunction with the Resilient Massachusetts Action Team (RMAT) conducted a comprehensive review and update of the 2018 SHMCAP utilizing a contractor to facilitate and administer the planning process, risk and vulnerability assessment, mitigation strategy, and related deliverables. The plan update released in Fall 2023 integrates the 2022 Massachusetts Climate Change Assessment which directly informs the Risk Assessment and Strategy and Action Plan among other sections, serving as a critical guiding resource across the state as the Commonwealth works collectively to reduce risk and build resilience.

Additional Resources

Contact for Local Hazard Mitigation Planning

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