General Information

What is Hazard Mitigation?

Natural hazards have the potential to cause property loss, loss of life, economic hardship, and threats to public health and safety. While an important aspect of emergency management deals with disaster recovery (those actions that a community must take to repair damages and make itself whole in the wake of a natural disaster), an equally important aspect of emergency management involves hazard mitigation. Hazard mitigation measures are efforts taken before a disaster happens to lessen the impact that future disasters of that type will have on people and property in the community. They are things you do today to be more protected in the future. Hazard mitigation actions taken in advance of a hazard event are essential to breaking the typical disaster cycle of damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage. With careful selection, hazard mitigation actions can be long-term, cost-effective means of reducing the risk of loss and help create a more disaster-resistant and sustainable community.

What is a Hazard Mitigation Plan?

A Hazard Mitigation Plan is a well-organized and well-documented evaluation of the hazards that a jurisdiction is susceptible to, and the extent to which these events will occur. Hazard Mitigation Plans identify an area's vulnerability to the effects of the natural hazards typically present in a certain area, as well as the goals, objectives, and actions required for minimizing future loss of life and property damage as a result of hazard events. The primary purpose of mitigation planning is to systematically identify policies, actions, and tools that can be used to implement those actions.

Purpose and Need for the Plan

Hazard mitigation plans are developed BEFORE a disaster strikes. The plans identify community policies, actions, and tools for long-term implementation to reduce risk and potential for future losses. Adopted, implemented and maintained on an ongoing basis, these plans will gradually, but steadily, lessen the impacts associated with hazard events in Ulster County.

As of November 1, 2004 communities that do not have a FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan in place are no longer eligible to receive FEMA project grant monies under programs such as the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program (FMA), Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) and Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program (PDM).

Ulster County initiated the process for development of its initial Hazard Mitigation Plan in 2007. The County and 12 of its 24 jurisdictions participated. This plan was later approved by FEMA in 2009 for all participating jurisdictions. The plan must be updated and re-approved by FEMA on a five-year cycle. This marks the first of the plan's formal updates since its inception.


Jurisdictions located within Ulster County who wish to be recognized by FEMA as being compliant with DMA 2000 must either: (a) participate with the County in the multi-jurisdictional plan development process and formally adopt the final plan, or (b) prepare their own hazard mitigation plan.

Elected and appointed government officials, business leaders, volunteers of non-profit organizations, citizens, and other stakeholders are being invited to participate in our multi-jurisdictional plan development process as part of our Ulster County Natural Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee (the “Planning Committee”).

Active participation in the process is the only way a jurisdiction can be seen in FEMA's eyes as a 'participating jurisdiction' that has met the requirements of DMA 2000 and is therefore eligible to apply for Federal funds for hazard mitigation projects. Participation includes attending meetings, providing feedback and reaching out to the public and other key stakeholders in the community, and adopting the final plan.

Process Overview

The Multi-Jurisdictional Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan for Ulster County was initially prepared to meet the requirements of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA 2000). Passed by the President in October of 2000, this Act mandates that all states and local governments must have hazard mitigation plans in place in order to be eligible to apply for certain types of federal disaster mitigation project funding (under such programs as the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program, for example). At that time, Ulster County and 12 of its 24 jurisdictions successfully participated in the process; the County and those 12 jurisdictions subsequently adopted the plan by formal resolution and were therefore recognized by FEMA as complying with DMA 2000. Multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plans are practical for addressing natural hazards, which do not recognize political boundaries and tend to involve issues best dealt with on a larger scale.

After a plan is initially approved by FEMA, each of its participating jurisdictions must work to implement the hazard mitigation actions that they outlined in their respective mitigation strategies, and participate in a process to update the plan every five years. This marks the first of the plan's formal updates since its inception. Ulster County has once again obtained FEMA grant funding to cover the cost of this first plan update, and has opted to continue its 'multi-jurisdictional' approach, inviting all of the municipalities within the County to continue to participate in this important endeavor to become more sustainable and disaster-resistant. Participation will again involve attending meetings, providing feedback, and reaching out to the public and other key stakeholders in the community.

During the plan update process, every section of the 2009 version of the Plan will be reviewed and comprehensively updated as needed to maintain compliance with FEMA mitigation planning requirements outlined in the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA2000), Title 44 Code of Federal Regulations 9CFR) Part 201.6, the Local Mitigation Plan Review Guide (2011), and Local Mitigation Planning Handbook (2013), and to reflect the current priorities of the County and each of its participating jurisdictions. The updated plan will also summarize hazard events that have occurred in the County since the last plan was prepared, and any new data that may be included in the current version of the New York State Hazard Mitigation Plan. It will more fully address each jurisdiction's participation in the FEMA National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and continued compliance with NFIP requirements. Goals and actions will either be reaffirmed or updated based on current conditions, including the completion of hazard mitigation initiatives, an updated or new risk assessment, or changes in State or local priorities.

The hazard mitigation plan update process began in August of 2013. A draft of the updated document is targeted for completion in August 2014.

While natural disasters cannot be prevented from occurring, the continued implementation of our hazard mitigation plan over the long-term will gradually, but steadily, lessen the impacts associated with hazard events across our county.

  • It simply costs too much to address the effects of disasters only after they occur
  • Advance planning leads to judicious selection of risk reduction actions
  • Contributes to more sustainable and disaster-resistant communities through selecting the most appropriate mitigation measures, based on the knowledge gained in the hazard identification and loss estimation process
  • Eligibility to apply for Federal aid for technical assistance and certain types of pre- and post- disaster project funding
  • Builds partnerships
  • Establishes funding priorities before disaster strikes
  • Improves the safety and economic well-being of constituents
  • Mitigation actions identified during the planning process can reduce the costs of a future disaster
  • State and federal aid is often insufficient to cover the extent of physical and economic damages resulting from disasters
  • A surprising amount of damage from hazards can be prevented by taking the time to anticipate where and how they occur
  • Planning can lessen the impact and speed the overall response and recovery process
  • Hazard mitigation can be incorporated as an integral component of daily business
  • Allows participants to focus their efforts on the hazard areas most important to them by incorporating the concept of determining and setting priorities for mitigation planning efforts