Hazards are a natural part of our environment that will inevitably continue to occur, but there is much we can do to minimize their impacts on our communities and prevent them from resulting in disasters. Every community faces different hazards, has different resources available to combat problems, and has different interests that influence the solutions to those problems. Because there are many ways to deal with hazards and many agencies that can help, there is no one solution for managing or mitigating their effects. Planning is one of the best ways to develop a customized program that will mitigate the impacts of hazards while taking into account the unique character of a community.
As defined by FEMA, “hazard mitigation” means any sustained action taken to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to life and property from a hazard event. Hazard mitigation planning is the process through which hazards are identified, likely impacts determined, mitigation goals set, and appropriate mitigation strategies determined, prioritized, and implemented.
The purpose of the Chatham County Multi-Jurisdictional Pre-Disaster Hazard Mitigation Plan is to identify, assess, and mitigate hazard risk to better protect the people and property within Chatham County from the effects of natural and human-caused hazards. This plan documents progress on existing hazard mitigation planning efforts, updates the previous plan to reflect current conditions in the planning area including relevant hazards and vulnerabilities, increases public education and awareness about the plan and planning process, maintains grant eligibility for participating jurisdictions, maintains compliance with state and federal requirements for local hazard mitigation plans, and identifies and outlines strategies the County and participating jurisdictions will use to decrease vulnerability and increase resiliency.
A well-prepared hazard mitigation plan will ensure that all possible activities are reviewed and implemented so that the problem is addressed by the most appropriate and efficient solutions. It can also ensure that activities are coordinated with each other and with other goals and activities, preventing conflicts and reducing the costs of implementing each individual activity. This plan provides a framework for all interested parties to work together toward mitigation. It establishes the vision and guiding principles for reducing hazard risk and proposes specific mitigation actions to eliminate or reduce identified vulnerabilities.