The following is provided in response to the consensus
opinion of the SHMT during their working session on
September 23, 2004. This is considered the first step in
a program of providing opportunities for interested
parties to become aware of and provide input to the
is Louisiana planning for future hurricanes and other
other storms may still come this year, the hurricane
season will end soon and Louisiana is already on the way
to recovery from our recent traumatic experiences. But
what are we doing to prepare for future hurricanes and
other natural disasters?
is Louisiana planning for future hurricanes and other
recent weeks, there have been strong reminders of the
devastation that can result from natural disasters. Too
many people were killed or injured and estimates of the
damage to property are in the hundreds of millions of
dollars. This year has been unusual in the number of
hurricanes that made landfall but the pattern of damages
to the State is well established.
State of Louisiana had already experienced 15 Federally
declared disasters from 1992 to 2004 before Hurricanes
Charley, Francis and Ivan made their presence known.
Tropical Storm Allison in June 2001 alone resulted in
$69 million in disaster assistance to the State from the
Federal Emergency Management Agency. At the time,
another $24 million was disbursed under the Federal
Disaster Housing Program and with more than 50,000
applicants registered for disaster assistance; the State
approved nearly $24.3 million in grants for almost
18,000 households under the Individual and Family Grants
programs. Adding $17 million in Small Business
Administration loans and $4.6 million in public
assistance, Federal and State damage assistance totaled
$139 million for this single declared disaster.
tropical weather systems that spawn tropical storms and
hurricanes are not going to suddenly disappear. But the
knowledge and methods exist to lessen the impacts when
these storms occur as well as reduce or mitigate the
effects of other natural and manmade hazards. The State
of Louisiana has been working for years to share their
knowledge and support the methods to mitigate hazards.
This year, the State has embarked on an important step
in this process, the development and implementation of a
statewide plan for reducing the impacts of natural and
manmade hazards; the Louisiana State Hazard
IS THE LOUISIANA STATE HAZARD MITIGATION PLAN?
the Louisiana State Hazard Mitigation Plan important?
October 2000, the President signed the Disaster
Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA 2000) into law. Among its
many features and supporting regulations, the Act
established a requirement (44 CFR Part 201.4) that all
States must have a hazard mitigation plan
approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
prior to November 1, 2003 in order to remain eligible
for many forms of Federal pre- and post-disaster
assistance. Although the approval deadline has
subsequently been changed to May 1, 2005, the
requirement for a hazard mitigation plan remains.
emergency response and recovery operations in the wake
of a disaster would not be affected. But, if the State
of Louisiana does not have a hazard mitigation plan
approved by the deadline, it will lose eligibility for
federal disaster assistance funds that help communities
pursue important hazard mitigation activities and
funding for restoration of damaged public facilities.
The major impact would be loss of eligibility for
Federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding
provided as part of a Presidential Disaster
Declaration. HMGP can be set at 7.5% of the total
funding. Therefore, the loss of HMGP eligibility would
leave the State unable to apply for millions of dollars
in Federal aid at a time when the State and its
residents can least afford it.
“hazard mitigation” and “hazard mitigation planning”?
is often defined as actions taken to reduce the effects
of hazards on a place and its population. Such hazards
can include a range of naturally-occurring events, such
as floods, severe storms, and earthquakes, and manmade
hazards resulting from accidents.
is the process States and communities undertake to
determine what risks they face from natural and manmade
hazards and the best ways to reduce or eliminate the
potential for loss of life, property damage, and
disruption of economic activities The resulting
mitigation actions include a wide range of activities
and projects, from educating home owners about how to
strengthen their homes to the construction of large
scale public works projects.
a State Hazard Mitigation Plan prepared?
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published an
Interim Final Rule (IFR) on February 26, 2002 that was
subsequently amended in October of the same year and
again in September of this year. The IFR set forth the
guidance and regulations under which DMA 2000-compliant
State hazard mitigation plans are to be developed. The
IFR provides detailed descriptions of the planning
process that States and localities are required to
observe, as well as the content of the plans that
emerge. The Louisiana State Hazard Mitigation Plan is
being prepared to directly respond to those
State of Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and
Emergency Preparedness (LHLS/EP) has undertaken the
development of the Louisiana State Hazard Mitigation
Plan. This plan, which will be formally adopted for the
State by Governor Blanco, is being prepared by LHLS/EP
with the assistance and cooperation of State Hazard
Mitigation Team (SHMT) members representing a range of
State agencies and organizations.
does the State Hazard Mitigation Plan include?
State Hazard Mitigation Plan that is being developed by
Louisiana includes two major elements, one that meets
the need to preserve eligibility and one that can
provide increased benefits to the State of Louisiana
over time. These elements are named according to the
guidance provided by FEMA as the Standard State
Hazard Mitigation Plan and the Enhanced State
Hazard Mitigation Program. The main distinctions
between the two elements are as follows:
the “Standard State Hazard Mitigation Plan”?
“Standard Plan” is the element of the overall planning
effort that is required to be approved by FEMA by May 1,
2005 to preserve current levels of Federal disaster aid
eligibility. In general terms, the Standard Plan
identifying the types and impacts of all natural and
selected manmade hazards;
Goals and Objectives
that reflect the hazards that threaten the State and
point toward actions that can be taken to minimize
or eliminate the deleterious impacts of these
Mitigation Action Plan
outlining specific activities and actions with a
concrete implementation strategy to reduce risk from
the identified hazards; and
Plan Maintenance Process
specifying how the State of Louisiana will keep the
Mitigation Action Plan current and focused on
addressing hazards in the most effective manner
broad sense, the Standard Plan is intended to identify
and implement discrete actions that will reduce the risk
of loss of life and property damage in the State of
Louisiana and preserve eligibility for existing levels
of Federal pre- and post-disaster funding.
the “Enhanced State Hazard Mitigation Program”?
requirements within the DMA 2000 for producing a
Standard Plan are obligatory for States to maintain
current levels of funding eligibility. However, the DMA
2000 also included a significant optional incentive for
States to also undertake improvements to the way they
administer programs related to hazard mitigation. In
basic terms, the Act provided for what is referred to as
“Enhanced Program” status for States that met certain
performance criteria. If a state is designated as
having an Enhanced Program, the most immediate effect is
the amount of money that can be made available for the
HMGP increases from 7.5% to 20%, a four-fold increase.
For a State facing the type of natural and manmade
hazards such as Louisiana, this is too good an offer to
pass up. Therefore, part of the current planning effort
is dedicated to identifying the ways in which Louisiana
must upgrade its current hazard mitigation
administrative program to attain Enhanced Program
summary, the Enhanced Program portion of the work is
intended to identify and implement improvements to the
way the State of Louisiana supports and administers
hazard mitigation to significantly increase the level of
available Federal funding.
the status of the planning process?
SHMT hired a contractor to support the planning process
in May 2004 and has held a number of working sessions
starting soon thereafter. These working sessions have
included SHMT review and comment primarily about the
Standard Plan. However, the current schedule calls for a
Preliminary Draft State Hazard Mitigation Plan
(including both the Standard Plan and Enhanced Program
elements) to be prepared and reviewed by the SHMT in
early December. After that point, review milestones
Draft State Hazard Mitigation Plan to be prepared
for SHMT review by the end of the 2004 calendar
Final Draft State Hazard Mitigation Plan to be ready
for a follow-up SHMT review around the end of
January 2005; and
Final State Hazard Mitigation Plan to be submitted
for FEMA review and approval at the end of February
/ beginning of March 2005.
DMA 2000, FEMA has up to 45 days to review the Final
Draft with the expectation that their review will be
done in early to mid April 2005 leaving the rest of
April to address any final comments and have the
Governor formally adopt the plan in time for FEMA
approval prior to May 1, 2005.
are the opportunities for interested parties to provide
input for the Plan?
planning process and review milestones identified above
reflect a tight schedule. However, the SHMT is
interested in getting comments and input from any and
all interested parties. In some cases, the interested
parties are State and Federal agencies and the SHMT
members has been looking into ways to solicit and
incorporate information and ideas from these other
agencies. However, the SHMT is also aware that there
are interested parties outside of State and Federal
agencies who want the opportunity to review
work-in-progress documents and provide their opinions
and the benefit of their experiences. At a recent
working session, the SHMT decided that they would make a
Draft version of the State Hazard Mitigation Plan
available as soon as practical after they review the
Preliminary Draft in early December.
Draft version of the Plan will be made available on this
website and the release date will be provided as soon as
the SHMT and LHLS/EP can determine a date with
certainty. At that time, the method and time available
for review and commentary will be identified but
generally, the goal is to provide as much as 30 days for
interested parties to download the document and provide
comments and suggestions for improvements.
worth noting in this regard that one of the requirements
of DMA 2000 for Standard State Hazard Mitigation Plans
is that they be regularly updated on a three year
cycle. The SHMT is also interested in developing ways
that interested parties can continue to contribute and
support future updates of the plan. The point is that
even though opportunities for input into this initial
planning cycle are not as extensive as all parties might
prefer, there is a commitment to providing opportunities
for on-going participation in supporting hazard
mitigation in Louisiana after this initial deadline is
met in May of 2005.