Planning Board: 62 hazard mitigation plans approved for towns
By The Star Staff
Planning Board Board Chairman Julio Lassús Ruiz said Thursday that 62 hazard mitigation plans have been approved for municipalities under the federal proposal for the Risk Mitigation Grant Program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Hazard mitigation planning reduces loss of life and property by minimizing the impact of disasters. It begins with state, tribal and local governments identifying natural disaster risks and vulnerabilities that are common in their area. After identifying these risks, they develop long-term strategies for protecting people and property from similar events. Mitigation plans are key to breaking the cycle of disaster damage and reconstruction.
There is one hazard mitigation plan under development and 10 are currently in the process of being updated. Five of the plans were prepared by the municipalities themselves, according to a statement. The primary goals of the plans are to maintain eligibility for federal program mitigation funds, identify potential mitigation projects, and increase public awareness and education, as well as maintain compliance with state and federal requirements.
“As part of the project work, we have to review and update the hazard identification and compliance risk analysis, coordinate activities to promote citizen participation and review municipal hazard mitigation plans according to their expiration dates,” the agency chairman said.
The mitigation plan is the document that analyzes the current or potential risks that could affect each municipality. It proposes measures to reduce or mitigate such risks. The type of mitigation strategies will depend on the individual needs of each community.
The hazards considered in the risk analysis are the following: climate change (rising sea level or extreme heat), drought, earthquake, flood, landslide, strong winds, tsunami, erosion and forest fire.
FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance includes five grant programs that provide funds for projects that reduce the risk to individuals and property from natural hazards. Similarly, risk mitigation includes long-term solutions that reduce the impact of future disasters. Furthermore, the Disaster Mitigation Act 2000 provides that municipalities must prepare a mitigation plan as a requirement to receive aid from FEMA.
“It is important that all municipalities update their mitigation plans so that they can help their communities mitigate damage and save lives in the face of any natural hazard that may impact Puerto Rico,” Lassús Ruiz said.