State of California Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan

The state of California has developed a Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan which recognizes that mitigation is a means of reducing risk to people and property and then integrates the planning efforts for all types of hazards and mitigation efforts in such a way as to avoid duplication and allow for speedy resolution of concerns. The public and a variety of other partners have had an opportunity to review the details and to modify the plan as needed to make it more effective. Each specific hazard is identified and then the actions necessary to carry out a valid mitigation program are divided into component parts to make it easier to evaluate them and then act on the findings. For example, for floods, the following subcategories exist: identifying the flood hazard and how frequently it has reoccurred; profiling the different phases of the flood hazard; determining flood vulnerability for each area; estimating flood losses for each area; determining the strategies and priorities for mitigation measures for each of these flood areas; and determining the mitigation efforts that have already been implemented and how effectively they are working.

The plan establishes Standardized Emergency Management Systems which makes it much easier and more efficient for multiagency responses to a given disaster and coordinates the efforts of all individuals and groups. It also provides for far better communications between various agencies and other groups. This program has minimized deaths and injuries, reduced losses to structures and infrastructure, minimized the impact to the environment, and reduced the work of the emergency responders.

The plan requires that all entities within the state regulate in a consistent manner land use, zoning, housing, open space, and infrastructure as well as building codes, retrofitting techniques, and fire codes to protect the health and safety of the population and their property and mitigate potential disasters. As a result of this, a solid foundation has been constructed for mitigating the impact of floods, fires, earthquakes, and other disasters in new housing and business developments. The plan also provides for using common terminology, enhancing data systems, GIS modeling, progress and communication of Best Practices from one community to another, and a tracking system to check for levels of completion of mitigation plans. Successful programs in different parts of the state of California are identified as examples for others.

Hazus-MH (Multi-Hazard), furnished by FEMA, is a federal government database and software which helps identify various elements of essential infrastructure and provides a GIS-based regional loss estimation tool for earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods. This helps provide necessary data to various parts of California for plan implementation. Since this does not cover very specific areas, the City of Los Angeles has improved upon the risk assessment by identifying critical response facilities, critical infrastructure facilities, and transportation infrastructure. Response facilities include fire stations, police stations, hospitals, city emergency operations centers, and evacuation centers. Utility infrastructure includes potable water systems and their components, electrical power systems and their components, wastewater treatment systems and their components, oil refineries, natural gas systems, and communication systems. Transportation infrastructure includes freeways, streets, bridges, railroads, airports, and harbor facilities. A determination is made of the quantity of water which is available and the quality of drinking water that can be utilized. A determination is made of the economic losses due to the disaster and the number of people killed, injured, and displaced.

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