IS MITIGATION ?
Mitigation is defined as "sustained action that reduces
or eliminates long-term risk to people and property from natural
hazards and their effects." It is the ongoing effort at Federal,
State, local, business, and individual levels to lessen the impact
of disasters upon our families, homes, communities and economy.
In a nutshell, mitigation is the ongoing effort to lessen the impact
of natural disasters and other man made disasters on people and
property. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) is the cornerstone
of disaster preparedness and recovery in the United States. Before,
during, and after a disaster they are the primary resource for disaster
education, planning, relief, and recovery information. All State
and local agencies look to this national agency as their ultimate
foundation and center of operations.
Mitigation usually begins at a local level. Communities look at
past problems, safety risks, and disaster trends in their area and
come up with plans - or revised plans,whichever the case calls for
- that will keep the citizens of the area safer and more informed.
These plans help strengthen the community's response to emergencies
through education, training, practice drills, and warning systems.
Hospitals and emergency response teams not only know their disaster
plans of action, but they have practiced it, found weaknesses, and
revised the plan. But mitigation does not end here. Not only must
a community's hospitals and emergency response teams be prepared
with education and training, but their facilities/vehicles must
be as safe, solid, properly maintained and operational, and stocked
with appropriate supplies. Being prepared is one of the best ways
to keep disaster casualties at a minimum.
These practices also can trickle down to the business and family
levels as well. Each of these smaller entities within the larger
local structure can look at past weaknesses and repetitive safety
risks and devise plans it make the living/working environment safer.
The end result, on all levels, is less casualties, less suffering,
less damage to the community, and therefore less money and resources
required for recovery.
In practice, mitigation can take many forms. It can involve actions
sound land use planning based on known hazards.
flood insurance to protect your home and belongings.
Relocating or elevating structures out of the floodplains.
Elevating utilities and laundry out of basements
Securing shelves and water heaters to nearby walls.
Developing, adopting, and enforcing effective building codes and
Engineering roads and bridges to carry a 25-year event without damage.
Implementing an emergency siren warning system for a city.
Designating large, structurally sound builiding as community emergency
Devising evacuation plans/routes and running evacuation drills.
Using fire-retardant materials in new construction.
Developing and implementing a plan in your business or community
to reduce your susceptibility to identified hazards.
These are just a few examples of what EMA mitigation includes. Although
it occurs in all levels of government - from Federal to individual
- and varies in what it includes, the main goal of all mitigation
practices, is to decrease casualties and use of stored emergency
resources, and increase citizens' awareness, preparedness, and safety
during a disaster.