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Hazard Mitigation

What is Hazard Mitigation?

Mitigation is another way to say “relieve” or “alleviate.” The general idea is to make a dangerous situation less risky, but what is Hazard Mitigation all about?

In emergency management, hazards are natural, man-made, or technological disasters. Hazard mitigation means reducing, eliminating, redirecting, or avoiding the effects of those hazards.

The standard definition of hazard mitigation that is often used by FEMA and PEMA is:

  • Any cost-effective action taken to eliminate or reduce the long-term risk to life and property from natural and technological hazards.

The phrase “cost-effective” is added to this definition to stress the important practical idea that, to be beneficial, a mitigation measure should save money in the long run. If the cost of a mitigation project is less than the long-term costs of disaster recovery and repair for the project area, the mitigation is considered cost-effective. Nationwide, FEMA estimates that for every $1 spent on mitigation, $4 is saved!

Mitigation Projects in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, the most common hazard is flooding. The most common mitigation project is acquisition and demolition of flood-risk homes or “buyouts.” Since 1996, some 1,400 homes and an estimated 3,500 people have been removed from dangerous flood areas through mitigation projects. Acquisition is considered the “best” mitigation because it eliminates the hazard of flooding in a risk area -- no homes, no losses.

Other mitigation projects in Pennsylvania include home elevations and small flood control projects, though these are fewer in number than acquisition projects. These types of mitigation activities are not as effective because homes and businesses remain in risk areas and can still be damaged in a disaster.

The Pennsylvania Silver Jackets  is an interagency team dedicated to working collaboratively with the commonwealth and stakeholders in developing and implementing solutions to flood hazards. They combine agency resources, which include funding, programs, and technical expertise.

The Pennsylvania Silver Jackets created the Pennsylvania Interagency Flood Mitigation Guide (PDF).

Learn More About Hazard Mitigation

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania State All-Hazard Mitigation Plan

Each state is required to have a hazard mitigation plan in order to be eligible for certain types of federal mitigation funding. Visit PEMA's Hazard Mitigation Forms and Documents to view the 2013 Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's FEMA/PEMA Approved All-Hazard Mitigation Plan (PDF) and other resources.

What's New in Hazard Mitigation?

Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee caused extensive and widespread damage to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This has resulted in two separate declarations of disaster, with Hurricane Irene being designated as DR-4025 and Tropical Storm Lee designated as DR-4030.

Visit the Hazard Mitigation Forms web page to view a presentation on Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) Eligibility for FEMA DR-4025 and FEMA DR-4030.

Contact Information 

For more information on hazard mitigation planning and technical assistance, please contact:

Tom Hughes, State Hazard Mitigation Officer, at 717-651-2726 or via the Hazard Mitigation email address.

Additional FEMA guidance for hazard mitigation can be found at FEMA's Mitigation Program web page and at the FEMA Library, a searchable database of all FEMA guidance and documents.

For more information on local hazard mitigation plans, contact your county emergency management coordinator or planning office (PDF).