What is Hazard Mitigation?

Hazard mitigation describes actions that are taken to eliminate or reduce risks to life and property from various forms of hazards in our world. By anticipating hazards and taking mitigation steps in advance of the onset of various types of threatening events, communities can break the disaster cycle of damage, emergency response, reconstruction, and repeated damage. Though it is impossible to predict the future with certainty or to be prepared for every situation, effective mitigation measures can make a community more resilient and reduce exposure to the impact of the hazards that the county will likely face. To be effective, emergency management strategy must involve a full cycle of planning including: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.  

Generally, the HMP assesses over a 20 hazards which can be divided into five types. A list of hazards profiled in the 2017 HMP are listed below as well as Invasive Species. The Invasive Species category was identified by Planning Team in 2017 to be added to future plans.  

Hazard Types
Profiled Hazards
Climate Change & Weather Hazards
Drought, Extreme Temperature, Flood, Flash Flood, Ice Jam, Hailstorm, Hurricane, Tropical Storm, Nor-easter, Lightning Strike, Winter Storm, Tornado, Windstorm
Geological Hazards
Earthquake, Landslide, Subsidence, Sinkhole, Radon Exposure
Biologic Hazards
Pandemic and Infectious Disease, Invasive Species
Infrastructure Hazards
Building & Structure Collapse, Dam Failure, Levee Failure, Utility Interruptions, Urban Fire & Explosion, Environmental Hazards, Radiological Release Incidents, Transportation Accidents
Intentional Hazards
Civil Disturbance, Cyber Terrorism, Terrorism

Planning to avoid the consequences of any form of disaster is a shared responsibility among the government, businesses, and residents. For mitigation efforts to be successful, it is important to have participation from a wide cross-section of diverse voices within the community. Responsibility for land use planning and regulating development such that the public health and safety is preserved and impacts of disasters are avoided can be exercised through the authority granted to municipal officials under the Municipal Planning Code (MPC) and various federally and state funded initiatives. Plans for community development, infrastructure, and emergency management are developed at the local level. Powers to enact or enforce construction, property maintenance, and fire prevention standards are derived from the individual codes that convey powers to all forms of local government, including townships of the first class, townships of the second class, boroughs, and home rule charter communities. The Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code (UCC) is a fundamental law that guides all forms of construction. County government coordinates many initiatives that span municipal boundaries. Municipal and county government rely upon state and federal resources to implement various initiatives undertaken to mitigate local hazards. The cooperation of the private sector and each resident of the county will also be essential to ensure that mitigation actions addressed in this plan are effective.  

 In the past several decades, the impact of various hazards on the nation has resulted in deaths, injuries, property damage and the interruption of business and government services. The resources required to recover from disasters caused by human, technological, and natural hazards have increased to the point where it is placing a strain on other government services. Since 1955, there have been 50 emergency declarations proclaimed in Pennsylvania that have impacted Montgomery County. Sixteen of these also resulted in Presidential Declarations.