Multi-Hazard Mitigation Planning

fire response
December 6, 2016

5-Year Review and Update of 10 County Hazard Mitigation Plans

Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC), Micaella Penning (GAC)
Funded by Minnesota HSEM, $262,500 (2016-2018)

The Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan (MHMP) is a requirement of the Federal Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA 2000). The development of a local government plan is required in order to maintain eligibility for certain federal disaster assistance and hazard mitigation funding programs. In order for communities to be eligible for future mitigation funds, they must adopt an MHMP.

These plans evaluate and rank the major natural hazards affecting each county as determined by frequency of event, economic impact, deaths, and injuries. Mitigation recommendations are based on input from state and local agencies, public input, and national best practices.

According to an analysis by the Multihazard Mitigation Council (a public/private partnership designed to reduce the economic and social costs of natural hazards), for every dollar spent by the federal treasury on FEMA mitigation grants, $3.65 is saved: “The present value of potential annual savings to the federal treasury because of the FEMA grants studied is approximately $970 million compared to an annual budget expenditure on these grants of $265 million” (Multihazard Mitigation Council, 2005).

GAC has direct experience with both county and state-level Hazard Mitigation Plan updates, working with:

  • Lake County (2012)
  • Brown County (2013)
  • Le Sueur County (2014)
  • Renville County (2014)
  • Carlton County (2014)
  • Itasca County (2014)
  • Aitkin County (2014)
  • Koochiching County (2014)
  • Minnesota (2014)
  • Sibley County (2015)
  • Traverse County (2015)
  • Leech Lake Reservation (2015)
  • Wright County (2015)
  • Scott County (2016)
  • Olmsted County (2017)

These efforts included conducting appropriate research to develop text and maps that will clearly describe and update the counties' community profile, land use, disaster history, hazard analysis and risk assessment. GAC designed and implemented strategies for input by county departments, other partners and the public on risk assessment and mitigation strategies, in addition to facilitating public meetings to develop and gather input on hazard mitigation strategies and priorities using the STAPLEE Benefit-Cost Review process.


GAC has also assisted counties with performing the hazard risk assessment for 100-year floods using the Hazus-MH GIS tool. This tool enables communities of all sizes to predict estimated losses from floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other related phenomena and to measure the impact of various mitigation practices that might help reduce those losses. The Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management office has determined that Hazus-MH should play a critical role in Minnesota's risk assessments, and therefore the 100-year flood event hazard analysis was introduced in the 2010 plans.

To encourage public participation, GAC is now using ArcGIS Online, a cloud-based mapping and GIS platform by Esri, and their story map templates to map the recent history of floods and other natural hazards in counties throughout Minnesota. Story maps combine mapping and analysis with multi-media content such as images, videos, text, and hyperlinks. Data layers such as the 100-year floodplain and potential economic loss produced with the FEMA Hazus-MH tool are seamlessly integrated with poignant imagery from past events, in the hope that the story map will serve as a helpful tool for visually ‘reminding’ residents about hazards to encourage their participation in future mitigation. Examples are linked below:

In the fall of 2016, GAC signed a contract with Minnesota Homeland Security Emergency Management to update 10 more county plans over the next 3 years. These counties are located throughout the state, including Faribault, Freeborn, Grant, Olmsted, Steele, Wabasha, Benton, Crow Wing, Hubbard, and Wilkin. Partnering with GAC is Bonnie Hundrieser of Hundrieser Consulting LLC, who specializes in Emergency Management and Whole Community Planning.

To learn more about GAC's involvement with hazard mitigation, check out this article from Shakopee Valley News in Scott County.