About the Project
The purpose of this project is to update the Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) for Westmoreland County and its municipalities. An HMP demonstrates County and community commitment to reducing risks from all hazards, and serves as a guide for decision makers as they commit resources to minimize the effects of hazards. The HMP is the blueprint for reducing the county’s vulnerability to disasters and hazards. The HMP is intended to integrate with county and municipal planning mechanisms already in place, such as building and zoning regulations, environmental planning, and long-range planning mechanisms. The planning process includes conducting a thorough hazard vulnerability analysis (HVA), creating community disaster mitigation priorities, and creating subsequent mitigation actions and projects for the county and participating municipalities. By participating in the planning process, the county and municipalities will be eligible to apply for and receive grant funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to reduce the vulnerability of residents within the community. Reducing one’s vulnerability to disasters helps to break the cycle of disaster and ensures a sustainable future for the next generation. After receiving FEMA approval of the HMP, the jurisdictions are eligible to receive grants from the following grant funding sources when/if they are needed:
- Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP)
- Pre-disaster Mitigation Program (PDM)
- Flood Mitigation Assistance Program (FMA)
During the planning process, the Westmoreland County Hazard Mitigation Planning Team is actively involving private sector, non-profit, and other community partners in the planning process. The approach is consistent with the “Whole Community Approach,” which seeks to involve the entire community in disaster and hazard planning.
The objectives of the Westmoreland County Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) planning process are:
- Provide the public opportunities throughout the plan development and drafting process to provide input.
- Conduct a thorough risk assessment using the most recent disaster data and information.
- Formulate hazard mitigation goals, objectives, and actions as they relate to reducing loss of life and property from natural and human-caused hazards.
- Obtain state and federal approval of the HMP.
Hazard Mitigation Planning Process Summary:
This hazard mitigation planning process involves six steps:
STEP 1: Organize Resources and Build the Planning Team Relevant studies, plans, and reports are collected along with communications resources that allow the public to be involved throughout the planning process. A planning team is “built” that consists of municipal representatives, and local and regional stakeholders.
STEP 2: Develop the Plan’s Risk Assessment
Potential locations and geographic extent of natural and human-caused hazards that can affect the county are identified along with their impacts and future probability. Scientific and anecdotal evidence of past events is collected and evaluated, and the hazards and losses the community has sustained are ranked high to low.
STEP 3: Assess Capabilities
Local capabilities in emergency management, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), planning and regulatory authority, administrative and technical knowledge, finances, and education and outreach are assessed.
STEP 4: Develop the Mitigation Strategy
Goals, objectives, and actions and are evaluated and updated as needed. The planning team defines appropriate mitigation techniques, and chooses and prioritizes mitigation actions and projects in the mitigation strategy.
STEP 5: Determine Plan Maintenance Process
The HMP is a living document that must be regularly reviewed, updated, and maintained. A schedule including responsible parties or agencies involved with monitoring, evaluating, and updating the plan during its 5-year cycle is prepared. A process for integrating the updated Mitigation Strategy into existing plans and reports is outlined and a plan for continued public outreach and participation will also be determined.
STEP 6: Obtain Mitigation Plan Approval and Adoption
The draft plan is made available for public comment then submitted to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for review and approval. Once the plan has been determined to meet all state and federal requirements and receives official approval, it should be adopted by all participating jurisdictions.