Mitigation Resources

Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2018 Interim Report

New National Institute of Building Sciences study on mitigation finds that modern, regularly updated building codes save lives and protect property.  The National Institute of Building Sciences released the Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2018 Interim Report at its annual conference, “Building Innovation 2019.”

The 2018 interim report updates and expands upon mitigation measures studied in 2005 by evaluating a broad suite of mitigation measures that can inform decision-making around investments to reduce the impacts of natural hazards.

The project team studied four categories of natural hazard mitigation efforts to date:

  1. Design of typical new buildings to exceed certain requirements of the 2015 IBC and IRC, and to conform to the 2015 IWUIC
  2. Design of typical new buildings to comply with the 2018 IBC and IRC, compared with 1990-era design requirements
  3. Mitigation of existing buildings funded by FEMA, EDA, and HUD.
  4. Natural-hazard mitigation for utilities and transportation lifelines.

The study found that adopting the 2018 International Codes generates a national benefit of $11 for every $1 invested.  The I-Codes are the most widely used and adopted set of building safety codes in the world.  This report follows a multi-year study on natural hazard mitigation and comes more than a decade after NIBS’ original report on mitigation.  The project team studied flood risk, hurricane wind hazards and earthquake risk.  They found that the national mitigation benefit-cost ratio associated with code adoption is

  • $6 to $1 for floods,
  • $10 to $1 for hurricanes, and
  • $12 to $1 for earthquakes, with benefits coming through avoided casualties, post-traumatic stress, property damage, business interruptions and insurance premiums.

The results show that all building stakeholders benefit from regularly updated codes—from developers, lenders, tenants and communities.  Communities that consistently meet the latest editions of the I-Codes, culminating in the 2018 editions, have added 30,000 new jobs to the construction-materials industry.

Last year’s interim report also found that adoption of the 2015 International Wildland Urban Interface Code provided a $4 to $1 mitigation benefit against wildfire risk.  These findings demonstrate the importance of regular updates to the building codes and strong code enforcement in order to mitigate damage from natural disasters such as wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes and flooding.

Download the report here.

Click here for a list of Mitigation Resource Links

Interested in learning more about how to mitigate?  FEMA produces mitigation guidance for communities, businesses, and homeowners, including:

Flood Mitigation Options

  • Anywhere it rains, it can flood. Protect your investment in your home by purchasing flood insurance, even if you do not live in a high-risk flood zone.
  • Elevate your home’s lowest floor above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). Elevating can lower flood insurance premiums and reduce the risk from increased future flood levels.
  • Elevate or floodproof HVAC and/or mechanical units, ductwork, electrical systems, and other utilities above the BFE to protect against flood damage and reduce repair costs.
  • Install flood vents in foundation walls, garages, and other enclosed areas. Flood vents reduce flood damage by allowing water to flow through and drain out.
  • Use flood-resistant materials in areas of your home below the BFE, like replacing carpeting with tiles or using flood-resistant insulation and gypsum wallboard (Sheetrock), to prevent water from doing major damage.
  • Anchor any fuel tanks to the floor and make sure vents and fill line openings are above the BFE (this may require permission from your fuel provider). A fuel tank can tip over or float in a flood, spilling fuel and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Install a backflow valve on your sewer system to prevent sewage back up in your home.
  • Add waterproof veneer to exterior walls to prevent shallow flooding from damaging your home. Seal your basement walls with waterproofing compounds.

Wind Mitigation Options

  • Install hurricane shutters to protect windows and glass doors. Gable end roofs are more susceptible to high wind than other roof types. If you have a gable end roof, add bracings to reinforce the roof.
  • Consider fastening the roof to the walls with hurricane straps.
  • Reinforce garage doors and double-entry doors to prevent failure under wind pressure. Garage doors can be reinforced with girts and by strengthening the glider wheel tracks. Double-entry doors can be reinforced with a heavy-duty dead bolt, adding slide bolts on one of the doors, and using longer hinge attachments on the door and frame.
  • Maintain your property. Anything from loose shingles to trees can become a windborne missile. The distance between your home and any tree should be greater than a full-grown tree’s height.

Link to Building Science Publications: Flood and Wind

General Protective Measures Mitigation

General Protective Measures Mitigation reduces or eliminates future losses, but you should also consider other measures to protect your family, your valuables, and your peace of mind.

  • Have a go-kit and make an emergency plan. Instructions and templates are available from Ready.gov. Familiarize yourself with local emergency and evacuation plans.
  • Consider purchasing a generator for your home that automatically turns on when the power goes out. If you install one, elevate it above the BFE.
  • Store important documents and sentimental items like photographs above the BFE (preferably on an upper floor). Make copies of your photos and store them in more than one location.

Flood Resilience Guide to protect utilities.  Introducing EPA’s tool, Flood Resilience: A Basic Guide for Water and Wastewater Utilities, which was designed for small and medium drinking water and utilities and includes interactive worksheets, instructional videos, and flood maps. With a user-friendly layout, embedded videos, and flood maps to guide you, EPA’s Flood Resilience Guide is your one-stop resource to protect your critical assets.

Planning for Drought

The Planning for Drought Resilience Fact Sheet describes how mitigation planning is integrated with drought resilience, and how FEMA’s work in mitigation planning supports the 2016 Memorandum and Federal Action Plan on Building Capabilities for Long-Term Drought Resilience.

FHWA Climate Change Vulnerability and Risk Assessment

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA’s) Climate Change and Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment Framework is a guide and collection of resources for use in analyzing the impacts of climate change and extreme weather on transportation infrastructure.  Its purpose is to identify key considerations, questions, and resources that can be used to design and implement a climate change vulnerability assessment.  The processes, lessons learned, and resources outlined in the framework are geared toward State departments of transportation (DOTs), metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), and other agencies involved in planning, building, or maintaining the transportation system.  It includes suggestions and examples applicable to a wide range of applications, from small qualitative studies to large, detailed, data-intensive analyses.

Download the FHA Climate Change and Weather Vulnerability Assessment Framework.

Some Other Important Publications …

Protecting Building Utility Systems from Flood Damage, 2nd Edition – FEMA P-348.  February 2017. The FEMA Building Science Branch is pleased to announce the release of the second edition of Protecting Building Utilities from Flood Damage, FEMA P-348. The overall objective of this updated publication is to assist in the repair, reconstruction and new construction of buildings with building utility systems and equipment that are designed and built for maximum flood resiliency.

The updated publication illustrates design and construction of utility systems that comply with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requirements for new or Substantially Improved residential and non-residential structures in flood-prone areas. It is also useful when evaluating structures for utility system upgrades or replacement, guiding users to meet floodplain management regulations and building code requirements. Even if NFIP compliance is not required, many building owners may find that applying the mitigation measures described in this publication will not only reduce future flood damage, but also facilitate faster recovery after flooding.

Key document features include:

  • Updated materials to reflect the latest versions of the International Code Council® codes and building standards;
  • Improved photographs, schematics and graphics;
  • Expanded sections to address specific mitigation measures both residential and non-residential building utility systems and equipment; and
  • Tools to assist the building owner in determining the best mitigation option for a particular building type and condition.

To download a copy of FEMA P-348 go to https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/3729.

Emergency Power Systems for Critical Facilities: A Best Practices Approach to Improving Reliability (FEMA P-1019) 
March 2015.  There is a significant likelihood that utility power will not be available for an extended period of time during severe natural hazard events. Thus, it is necessary for critical facilities to have reliable sources of sustained electrical power to achieve continued operation. This new publication provides guidance on the design and operation of emergency power systems in critical facilities so that they will be able to remain operational for extended periods, as needed.

This document examines the vulnerability of electrical power systems to natural hazards, describes what equipment in critical facilities should be supplied by emergency power sources, how long the emergency power may be needed, the specific equipment needs of different types of critical facilities, and how emergency power can be supplied. It provides guidance on how to assess the risks and vulnerabilities to the electrical power system, identifying performance goals for an emergency power system, and the importance of having realistic emergency management policies that address emergency power.  FEMA P-1019 is available in print and can also be downloaded for free at: https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/101996.

Improving Outcomes and Increasing Benefits Associated with Wetland and Stream Restoration Projects.  September 2014.  The Environmental Law Institute and The Nature Conservancy released a new handbook to advance the use of a watershed approach in the selection, design, and siting of wetland and stream restoration and protection projects, including projects required as compensatory mitigation for permitted activities.  The joint report, Watershed Approach Handbook: Improving Outcomes and Increasing Benefits Associated with Wetland and Stream Restoration and Protection Projects demonstrates how using a watershed approach can help ensure that these projects also contribute to goals of improved water quality, increased flood mitigation,improved quality and quantity of habitat, and increases in other ecological services and benefits.

Planning and Building Livable, Safe & Sustainable Communities – Patchwork_Quilt_Approach 2012.  A white paper from the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association (NHMA).  Link here to the Planning and Building Livable, Safe & Sustainable Communities- Patchwork_Quilt_Approach 2012.

Reducing Flood Losses Through the International Codes®: Coordinating Building Codes and Floodplain Management Regulations (4th Edition)September 2014.  A joint effort by the International Code Council and FEMA, this edition is a significant change from earlier versions.  It has new content to describe the differences between NFIP regulations and I-Code requirements for buildings, identifies pertinent questions that should be answered in the context of each State’s or local community’s existing statutes and codes, and offers examples of Cover photo for the document: Reducing Flood Losses Through the International Codes: Coordinating Building Codes and Floodplain Management Regulations, 4th Edition (2014)how the I-Codes can be modified to incorporate even higher standards to increase resistance to flood damage.

Also new in this edition is an introduction and link to download three versions of a model floodplain management ordinance that satisfies NFIP requirements and coordinates with the flood provisions of the I-Codes.  Communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) can rely on the 2009 and later editions of the International Codes® (I‑Codes) to form the basis of their floodplain management practices. The flood provisions in these editions meet or exceed the minimum NFIP requirements for buildings and structures in Special Flood Hazard Areas and contain a number of higher standards.  Reducing Flood Losses Through the International Codes®(4th Edition)is available at http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/96634.  The model ordinance can be downloaded at: http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/96224.

Engineering Principles and Practices for Retrofitting Flood-Prone Residential Structures. The third edition of Engineering Principles and Practices for Retrofitting Flood-Prone Residential Structures (FEMA P 259)  is now available from the FEMA Publications Warehouse! To read more about the document and for other information, see the article here: [Full Article].

EHP Publications  

Environmental and Historic Preservation (EHP) At-A-Glance:   http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?id=5904  This document provides provides information on how to incorporate environmental and historic preservation considerations into your Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant application and project.

USGS Tool Shows Historic & Simulated Future Water Conditions in the U.S.

January 12, 2017

The Hydrology Futures Portal, released by the U.S. Geological Survey, provides a user-friendly interface summarizing monthly historic (1952 through 2005) and simulated future conditions (2020 through 2099) for various meteorological and hydrological variables at locations across the conterminous United States.

The features on this new application include seven searchable meteorological and hydrological variables: actual evapotranspiration, atmospheric temperature, potential evapotranspiration and precipitation, runoff, snow water equivalent (the volume of water stored in the snowpack/depth of water if the snow melted) and streamflow.

USGS publishesIdentifying and preserving high-water mark data: techniques and methods 3-A24

March 18, 2016

The report serves as a field guide for identifying high-water marks and presents guidance and proper techniques for preserving, evaluating, and recording the data collected for use in surface-water modelling, flood documentation and much more.

Private Sector More Tools and Information

FEMA.gov includes a dedicated portal where the private sector can find resources and information covering the whole emergency management cycle. This portal also includes social media applications, such as Twitter and a widget, information on training, grants, other federal resources, and weekly tips: www.fema.gov/privatesector.

KAMM mailing address: KAMM, PO Box 1016, Frankfort, KY 40602-1016. Have questions, contact us at kentuckymitigation@gmail.com.  Don’t forget to join the KAMM group on LinkedIn .