Hazard mitigation planning will enable local governments to better protect lives, property, and natural systems. The purpose of mitigation planning is to identify policies and actions that can be implemented over the long term to reduce risk and future losses. Local Hazard Mitigation Plans (LHMP) form the foundation for a community's long-term strategy to reduce disaster losses and break the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage.
Local governments and their communities benefit from hazard mitigation planning by:
- Identifying cost effective actions for risk reduction that are agreed upon by stakeholders and the public
- Focusing resources on the greatest risks and vulnerabilities
- Building partnerships by involving people, organizations, and businesses
- Increasing education and awareness of hazards and risk
- Communicating priorities to state and federal officials
- Aligning risk reduction with other community objectives
For more information visit the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Planning website.
Financial benefits for local governments that have a FEMA-approved LHMP include:
- A FEMA-approved LHMP is required for local governments that wish to receive federal funds from the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) and Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program.
- The LHMP is also one of the mitigation actions needed to qualify for additional post-disaster funding through the Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund (ERAF).
There are many resources available to guide communities through the local hazard mitigation planning process. A selection of resources are available on the Hazard Mitigation Planning Resources page. The planning resources page also contains links for hazard data sources and YouTube tutorials for accessing data.
If you were recently told that you need to update your LHMP or that funding is available to do so, you likely need to update your LHMP again. Your community may have recently updated your LEMP, or Local Emergency Management Plan. The February 2023 VEM Newsletter shows a side-by-side comparison of the LHMP and LEMP.
The LHMP needs to be updated every 5 years. FEMA advises to allow yourself 1 1/2 years to complete the planning process to adoption and approval.
The Expanded Community Report on Vermont’s Flood Ready website shows your community’s LHMP status.
- Visit the Expanded Community Report page
- Choose your town using the drop-down menu
- Click search
- A chart will open in a new window where you will find (under Flood Hazard Mitigation Actions): 4. Local Hazard Mitigation Plan and ERAF Status which will say:
- “Yes” if your town LHMP has been approved by the local community, and is approved or in the process of securing final approval by FEMA
- “No” if your town does not have a LHMP or it has expired and is not yet in the process of being updated.
See the status of FEMA-approved LHMPs by viewing the Vermont Hazard Mitigation Plan Status map last updated 2/1/2023.
All LHMPs must meet the planning elements listed in the Local Mitigation Plan Review Tool in order to receive FEMA approval.
FEMA’s Local Mitigation Plan Review Guide describes what is required for an LHMP to receive formal FEMA approval, and both VEM and FEMA use the Local Mitigation Plan Review Tool to review LHMPs for completeness. VEM has created a list of Steps for Approval to serve as an overview of the LHMP process.
Drafts are routed by your community’s lead planner (this position could be held by a community, RPC staff person, or a consultant) to the State Hazard Mitigation Planner at VEM for an initial completeness review. VEM may request additional information in the LHMP in order to meet FEMA’s requirements. Upon completion of any state requests VEM submits the LHMP to mitigation planners at FEMA Region 1 in Boston. FEMA mitigation planners may also request additional information in the LHMP to meet their requirements.
When the draft has satisfied FEMA’s review, FEMA will indicate “Approved Pending Adoption" by the community. After the plan is adopted by the community, FEMA will then issue final approval. The LHMP is valid for five years from the date of FEMA Approval.
Upon submittal of the first draft to VEM, it can take several months to receive FEMA Approval, depending on the revisions required.
Vermont Emergency Management will apply to the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program on behalf of local municipalities who express interest in developing or updating LHMPs in the next 3 years.
The State regularly submits applications on behalf of interested communities under BRIC (formerly PDM) to develop or update LHMPs. Contact State Hazard Mitigation Planner, Caroline Paske - email@example.com or (802) 585-5246 with any questions and to apply for funding.
More information on funding opportunities for LHMPs and other mitigation activities are described on the FloodReady.vermont.gov webpage.
What is the connection between LHMPs and the Flood Resilience planning requirement in Municipal Plans?
Under State statute, communities may refer to their LHMP as contributing to addressing the requirements of the flood resilience section of municipal plans.
The requirements of a LHMP for FEMA and the flood resilience element of a Municipal Plan under state statute are related but not identical.
- LHMPs may address several types of hazards and are particularly oriented to identifying problematic areas of the community for future mitigation action.
- The flood resilience section of the Municipal Plan is oriented to protecting existing landscape features that already function for the community, before focusing on location-specific “fixes”.
(Cited from FloodReady.vermont.gov, Local Hazard Mitigation Plan webpage.)
For more information about meeting the Flood Resilience Element of Municipal Plans and to see examples, visit FloodReady.vermont.gov at the Flood Resilience Element webpage and the Example Flood Resilience Plan Elements webpage.
Yes, the State Hazard Mitigation Plan (SHMP) is updated every 5 years. The 2023 SHMP was approved by FEMA on November 15th, 2023. The SHMP is an important reference for LHMPs, and goals of each LHMP should reflect those of the SHMP. Learn more about the Vermont 2023 State Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Visit FloodReady to see Local Hazard Mitigation Plans for other Vermont communities. Search for a community under Summary Report/Sheet and click on the LHMP date hyperlink to open available plan pdfs. Not every community will have a report available.
- For questions regarding Local Hazard Mitigation Planning, contact Caroline Paske - firstname.lastname@example.org or (802) 585-5246