About the Planning Process and the HMP
Westchester County Department of Planning is leading the update of the Westchester County Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) for the County and its jurisdictions. This plan is an opportunity to detail a variety of potential hazards that could affect some or all of our residents and will also allow the County and the participating jurisdictions to be eligible for future mitigation funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The goal of this plan is to identify projects that can reduce damages from future natural and non-natural hazards. The plan will include a risk assessment and a hazard mitigation strategy. The study will focus on existing buildings and potential future development, infrastructure, and critical facilities that might be impacted. Critical Facilities are those facilities considered critical to the health and welfare of the population and that are especially important following a hazard. Critical facilities include essential facilities, transportation systems, lifeline utility systems, high-potential loss facilities, and hazardous material facilities.
During the planning process, the Westchester County Hazard Mitigation Planning Partnership is actively involving private sector, non-profit, and other community partners in the planning process. The approach is consistent with the “Whole Community Approach,” which seeks to involve the entire community in disaster and hazard planning.
The objectives of the Westchester County Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) update are:
- Provide the public opportunities throughout the plan development and drafting process to provide input.
- Conduct a thorough hazard vulnerability assessment (HVA) and risk assessment using the most recent disaster data and information.
- Formulating hazard mitigation goals, objectives and actions as they relate to reducing loss of life and property from natural and human-caused hazards.
- Obtain state and federal approval of the HMP.
Hazard Mitigation Planning Process Summary:
This hazard mitigation planning process for Westchester County involves seven steps:
STEP 1: Organize Resources and Build the Planning Team
Relevant studies, plans, and reports are collected along with communications resources that allow the public to be involved throughout the planning process. A planning team is “built” that consists of municipal representatives, and local and regional stakeholders.
STEP 2: Develop the Plan’s Risk Assessment
Potential locations and geographic extent of natural and human-caused hazards that can affect the county are identified along with their impacts and future probability. Scientific and anecdotal evidence of past events is collected and evaluated, and the hazards and losses the community has sustained are ranked high to low.
STEP 3: Public and Stakeholder Involvement
Throughout the planning process, the public and stakeholders (neighboring communities, local and regional agencies, etc.) will have opportunities to be involved in the HMP update. The outreach strategy for this plan update includes involving a wide range of stakeholders, using this website and social media platforms to engage the public, and developing a series of surveys to collect important information from the public and stakeholders. This strategy will allow Westchester County to accurately reflect the values and priorities of the County in the plan and help facilitate implementation of mitigation actions and projects to reduce risk.
STEP 4: Assess Capabilities
Local capabilities in emergency management, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), planning and regulatory authority, administrative and technical knowledge, finances, and politics are assessed.
STEP 5: Develop the Mitigation Strategy
Goals, objectives, and actions and are evaluated and updated as needed. The planning team defines appropriate mitigation techniques, and chooses and prioritizes mitigation actions and projects in the mitigation strategy.
STEP 6: Determine Plan Maintenance Process
The HMP is a living document that must be regularly reviewed, updated, and maintained. A schedule including responsible parties or agencies involved with monitoring, evaluating, and updating the plan during its 5-year cycle is prepared. A process for integrating the updated Mitigation Strategy into existing plans and reports is outlined and a plan for continued public outreach and participation will also be determined.
STEP 7: Obtain Mitigation Plan Approval and Adoption
The draft plan is made available for public comment then submitted to the New York State Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services (NYSDHSES) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for review and approval. Once the plan has been determined to meet all state and federal requirements and receives official approval, it should be adopted by all participating jurisdictions.