Regional Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan  

Regional Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan

In 2007, the Regional Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan (RNHMP) was prepared and adopted by the six municipalities of the Greater Bridgeport planning region. The RNHMP makes the communities eligible for certain mitigation project grants administered and provided by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). The 2007 Plan expired in January, 2012, necessitating an update.

MetroCog, on behalf of its member communities, submitted an application to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and was provided a $90,000 grant from FEMA to update the region’s natural hazard mitigation plan. All six member municipalities agreed to participate in the planning effort and committed the required non-federal share of the FEMA grant.

The primary goal of the NHMP is to reduce the loss of life, personal injury and damage to property, infrastructure and natural, cultural and economic resources from a natural disaster. The Plan emphasizes actions that can be implemented now to reduce or prevent damage from a future natural disaster. The assessments and evaluations are based on an extensive data collection and outreach to obtain information on the physical setting of the region, existing hazards, and the occurrence, frequency, duration and potency of probable hazards. The components of the Plan include:

  • Identification of natural hazards that could occur in the region – inland flooding, coastal flooding, hurricanes, sea level rise, summer storms, winter storms (ice and blizzards), tornadoes, earthquakes and dam failure;
  • Evaluation of vulnerabilities to structures and populations;
  • Assessment of current mitigation measures included in the 2007 NHMP to determine which have been implemented and whether or not they have been effective in reducing vulnerabilities and risks;
  • Identification and evaluation of potential mitigation measures that could be implemented to reduce risks and vulnerability;
  • Development of response strategies to address hazard mitigation; and
  • Recommendations for future mitigation actions.

Plan Development Process

At the outset of the planning process, the MetroCog will establish four separate planning teams to coordinate and provide direction in the development of the regional NHMP and provide the necessary local input into the Plan. Because of the higher vulnerabilities and increased risks associated with the coastal area, separate planning teams are being setup for Bridgeport, Fairfield and Stratford. A combined inland planning team will be organized with representatives from Easton, Monroe and Trumbull.

A key element of the process is engaging stakeholders and reaching out to them to identify the hazards and vulnerabilities facing our communities. To assist in this effort, the MetroCog partnered with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to sponsor and conduct coastal/community resiliency and natural hazards profile workshops. The purpose of the workshops is to increase awareness of the risks and vulnerabilities associated with extreme weather in the Region. The focus is on engaging those most involved in planning for and responding to natural hazards in conversations about risks and vulnerabilities.

The workshops utilize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Coastal Services Center’s Roadmap for Adapting Coastal Risk as a framework, coupled with TNC’s risk matrix approach to engage participants in a discussion on natural hazards. This approach will produced rich information and experiences on recent natural events and recommendations to improve resilience to natural hazards.

To date, two, two-day workshops have been held:

  • Bridgeport: November 16, 2012 and December 6, 2012
  • Fairfield: June 21, 2013 and June 28, 2013

Two additional workshops are being planned; one for the Town of Stratford and a combined workshop covering the towns of Easton, Monroe and Trumbull.

Development of the Regional Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan consists of the following major tasks.

  • Risk Assessment: The Plan will include a risk assessment that provides the factual basis for activities proposed in the strategy to reduce losses from identified hazards. The risk assessments will provide sufficient information to enable the jurisdiction to identify and prioritize appropriate mitigation actions to reduce losses from identified hazards. The Plan will include a description of the location and extent of all natural hazards that have the potential of affecting the region. Information on previous occurrences of hazard events will be collected through a review NOAA databases and interviews with municipal staff. The probability of future hazard events will be determined.
  • Assess Vulnerability: The Plan will assess the Region’s vulnerability to natural hazards and will describe each hazard and its potential impact on the region’s communities. GIS-based methodology will be used to identify the parcels that are vulnerable to a hazard, especially coastal and inland flooding and storm surge. The plan will describe vulnerability in terms of the types and numbers of existing and future buildings, infrastructure, and critical facilities located in the identified hazard area. Based on the parcel analysis the potential economic loss will be calculated, so that the plan will describe vulnerability in terms of an estimate of the potential dollar losses to identified vulnerable structures Repetitive loss properties, that is, structures insured under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and that have been repetitively damaged by floods, will be assessed.
  • Mitigation Strategy: The plan will develop mitigation strategies that provide the blueprint for reducing the potential losses from extreme weather events. A range of specific mitigation actions and projects to reduce the effects of each hazard, with particular emphasis on new and existing buildings and infrastructure, will be identified. An implementation plan will be developed that describes how the mitigation actions will be prioritized, implemented, and administered.
  • Plan Maintenance Process: FEMA guidelines require the NHMP to be adopted and endorsed by the governing body of each municipality included in the Plan. This process will describe how local governments will incorporate the mitigation strategies and other information contained in the plan into other planning mechanisms, such as comprehensive or capital improvement plans.