Hazard Mitigation and Preparedness (U.S. Federal Programs: Advantages and Disadvantages)
The confrontations and prospects for the reduction of hazards/disasters have never been greater than in the current period. In theory, the challenge is to do away with all disasters that cause the loss of life or injury to people along with the property and environment damage. On the other hand, such a goal is not possible to achieve practically. Although it is possible to avoid certain risks but the elimination of environmental hazards seems to be an idealistic task (Smith, 2004, p. 268).
The evidence signals that there is a need to do more today for tomorrow. Though investment in hazard mitigation has increased, there are few signs that show the effectiveness of the sustainability plans. In United States of America, several plans are outlined that have lessened the number of casualties and scale of destruction (Smith, 2004, p. 268). In this research paper, federal programs available for hazard mitigation and preparedness and their advantages and disadvantages will be discussed in detail.
Mitigation is the effort and endeavors that are put to decrease the loss of life and damage of property by reducing the hazards/disasters impact. These efforts are assisted and accomplished through risk analysis. Such an analysis of risk provides important information that makes it easier to organize mitigation activities for reducing risk. It also provides information that is helpful for flood insurance that secures pecuniary investment ("Mitigation," 2011). The activities included in mitigation are:
1. Acting in accordance with the NFIP floodplain management policies
2. Implementation of rigorous building systems, flood-proofing supplies, seismic design codes, and wind-bracing supplies for new building construction or repairing
3. Taking on zoning ordinances that maneuver development away from areas subject to violent water flow after flooding, storm surge or coastal attrition
4. Retrofitting municipal buildings so that they can resist strong cyclonic winds or ground shaking
5. Getting hold of the smashed homes or industries in flood-prone areas and then putting the structures somewhere else and returning the property for recreational, personal or business uses
6. Building public shelters and protected rooms to save people from harm in their homes, offices and schools in hazard-prone vicinities ("Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA)," 2011)
Disaster management is the bedrock to prepare for an emergency. The agencies can take important steps to avoid the prospected threats if mitigation is done properly. Along with physical mitigation, financial mitigation is also extremely important for the safeguard of the residents of a community and for the recovery of their functions (Edwards & Afawubo, 2008).
The members of the business community who generate tax and fee as revenue regard mitigation as most important for them. It is an important part of community recovery that these members have the capabilities to stabilize and soothe their businesses. It has been reported by USA Today that between the disaster of Katrina and 2006's 4th quarter, 7,900 businesses in southeast Louisiana, including New Orleans, were shattered. If pre-disaster efforts at mitigation are conducted, there is a high chance that the businessmen remain stable even after the disaster (Edwards & Afawubo, 2008).
According to the National Incidence Management System (NIMS), Preparedness is "a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating, and taking corrective action in an effort to ensure effective coordination during incident response" ("Preparedness," 2010). Preparedness is exceedingly important for prevention, response, recovery and mitigation. It helps individuals and societies to act against natural hazards, terrorist activities and human-assisted disasters.
What is FEMA?
The United States of America is exceptional in developing extensive monetary assistance programs for areas prone to disasters or hit by a hazard. Financial assistance is provided for particular resurgence activities through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to the communities that apply for and obtain presidential disaster declarations. The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Small Business Administration also have disaster assistance programs (Edwards & Afawubo, 2008).
There are many forms that a disaster can take; earthquakes, hurricanes, cyclones, whirlwinds, tornadoes, fire, twisters, floods, hazardous leakages, terrorist activities, volcanic eruptions etc. Millions of Americans face the fury of nature annually and experience the catastrophic consequences of unwarned disasters ("About FEMA," 2011).
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is working as a part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security since 2003. Its mission is to support American citizens and first responders to make certain that the nation works together against the disasters that can strike anywhere at any time without warning. It is FEMA's responsibility to guarantee that the citizens work collectively to assemble, uphold and perk up their "capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards" ("About FEMA," 2011). The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA work mutually to guarantee the mitigation and hazard preparedness by postulating strategies and adequate plans. They also ensure the validation of all the plans and policies. Both the cooperating partners also define basic facilities that are needed to address various threats. They do so by endowing the local authorities with resources and technical assistance. Thus, their fundamental aim is to amalgamate and harmonizing preparedness efforts all the way through the 50 United States ("Preparedness," 2010).
According to the October 2011 statistics, there are 7,474 people who are working nationwide as FEMA employees. Their work is to provide support to the fellow American citizens in order to prepare them for dealing mutually with any forthcoming natural or human hazard. The FEMA workforce is spread all through the country; at its Headquarters, 10 regional offices, the National Emergency Training Center, Center for Domestic Preparedness/Noble Training Center and various other areas. All these working units are established on a national level in order to support the larger disaster supervision team. FEMA is not a group in itself. In fact, it is the part of a huge team that includes federal partners (public and private non-profit agencies), state, tribal and local officials and the common man ("About FEMA," 2011).
FEMA's 4 Steps to Emergency Management
4 steps of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery have been recognized by FEMA to deal with the crisis management (Adams, 2002).
Mitigation efforts are described by FEMA as "those which try to eliminate or reduce the impact of a hazard, Such as the traditional lightning rod." These responsibilities are similar as those involved in any risk management program. In this case however, they are entirely focused on putting a stop to or curtailing the loss of cataclysmic events (Adams, 2002).
Preparedness is simply identifying the risk and after its mitigation, starting to prepare for the unforeseen and improbable. Preparedness involves steps that are taken to prepare for an unexpected natural or human attack so that in case it occurs, the human, material and fiscal resources are complete, prearranged, skilled and accessible (Adams, 2002). The Preparedness Cycle consists of certain components which collectively help a nation to be prepared for dealing with any imminent hazard/disaster. They are planning, organization and equipment, training, exercise and evaluation and improvement ("Preparedness," 2010)
Response simple means putting all the plans into action whereas Recovery is the phase that continues for a long time. The best example of recovery phase is the psychosomatic therapy of those who survive after a calamity and the families of those who lost their lives (Adams, 2002).
U.S Federal Programs for Hazard Mitigation
The long-term strategies to lessen the disaster losses in a community are supported by various mitigation plans. These plans help in rupturing the cycle of disaster damage, restoration/rebuilding and recurring devastation. In short, the planning process is as vital as the plan itself. Mitigation constructs an outline for risk-based decision making. This helps in diminishing loss of lives, assets, and the economy from expected disasters in future. Thus, hazard mitigation is the unrelenting action that is meant for reducing and purging continuing menaces to people and their belongings from both natural and human hazards ("Multi-Hazard Mitigation Planning," 2010).
Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA)
FIMA was founded on 29 November 1993. After its emergence, mitigation turned out as the keystone of emergency management. This was a unique incident as mitigation got historical importance in federal disaster assistance. FIMA's partners consist of an expansive continuum of stakeholders in central, state, tribal and local government and also in the private sector. Furthermore, professional associations and NGOs involved in public policy and administration, insurance, higher education, the building sciences, and urban planning are also included in FIMA's partners ("Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA)," 2011)
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and several other programs that are sketched out to trim down future losses to houses, businesses, schools, civic buildings, and important conveniences from tornados, floods, fire, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other natural disasters are managed by FIMA ("Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA)," 2011).
1. The National Flood Insurance Program
The Flood Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA) administer and regulate the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Flood Insurance, Floodplain Management and Flood Hazard Mapping are…