Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Cayuga County Multi-Jurisdictional All-Hazard Mitigation Plan: Introduction
Many Cayuga County residents are aware of their vulnerability to natural hazards such as flooding, severe storms, and severe winter storms. Hazard mitigation planning is a step toward addressing these hazards and the effects on County businesses and population and reducing future damages due to hazard events. Residents and businesses benefit from comprehensive hazard mitigation planning by using a sustained pro-active approach to reduce or eliminate long term risk to people and property from hazards. By utilizing mitigation planning, communities assess risks and identify actions to reduce their vulnerability and increase sustainability.

Mission Statement:

The mission of the Cayuga County Multi-Jurisdictional All-Hazard Mitigation Plan is to identify and reduce, through cost-effective and sustainable mitigation efforts, our vulnerability to natural and man-made hazards. In doing so, Cayuga County seeks to create an informed and prepared community while protecting its health, safety, property, economy, quality of life, and environment.


A Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) is a living document that communities use to reduce their vulnerability to hazards. HMPs form the foundation for a community's long-term strategy to reduce disaster losses and break the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage. HMPs create a framework for risk-based decision making to reduce damages to lives, property, and the economy from future disasters.

Further, communities must have an approved HMP to apply for or receive pre-disaster mitigation grant funding. Grant funding is available for projects to mitigate risk to both public and private property. For example projects such as home elevations and local flood mitigation projects are eligible for funding. Ultimately, these actions reduce vulnerability, and communities are able to recover more quickly from disasters.

Once Cayuga County has an approved HMP, it must be formally updated every five years. The update process is an opportunity for Cayuga County and its municipalities to re-examine its vulnerability to natural hazards, evaluate progress on the mitigation strategies identified in the original plan, and add new mitigation actions/projects/initiatives so that the County can continue to lower its overall natural hazard risk.

Cayuga County's Emergency Management Office and Planning Department are managing this planning effort, supported by the Cayuga County HMP Steering Committee and Tetra Tech, Inc. (Morris Plains, NJ). This planning effort is expected to continue through Spring 2013. The County and all municipalities (the "Planning Partnership") have committed to participating in this process, and so continue to be eligible for pre-disaster mitigation grant funding for eligible projects.

What is Hazard Mitigation?

Hazard Mitigation is any action taken to reduce the loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters (natural, technological and man-made) (www.fema.gov). It is often considered the first of the four phases of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

Mitigation measures fall into the following six general categories, and address both public and private property:
  • Prevention: Measures such as planning and zoning, open space preservation, and development regulations, building codes, storm water management, fire fuel reduction, soil erosion and sediment control.
  • Property Protection: Measures such as acquisition, relocation, storm shutters, rebuilding, barriers, flood-proofing, insurance, and structural retrofits for high winds and earthquake hazards.
  • Public Education and Awareness: Measures such as outreach projects, real estate disclosure, hazard information centers, technical assistance, and school age and adult education programs. 
  • Natural Resource Protection: Measures such as erosion and sediment control, stream corridor protection, vegetative management, and wetlands preservation. 
  • Emergency Services: Measures such as hazard threat recognition, hazard warning systems, emergency response, protection of critical facilities, communication systems, and health and safety maintenance. 
  • Structural Projects: Measures such as dams, levees, seawalls, bulkheads, revetments, high flow diversions, spillways, buttresses, debris basins, retaining walls, channel modifications, storm sewers, and retrofitted buildings and elevated roadways (seismic protection).

How will this Plan benefit Cayuga County?

The hazard mitigation plan will assist Cayuga County with the following: 
  • An increased understanding of natural hazards the County faces 
  • Reduced long-term impacts and damages to human health and structures and reduced repair costs
  • Development of more sustainable and disaster-resistant communities
  • Access to federal mitigation grant funding for eligible projects
Proactive mitigation leads to sustainable, more cost-effective projects. By contrast, reactive mitigation tends to lead to the "quick-fix" alternatives; it simply costs too much to address the effects of disasters only after they happen. A surprising amount of damage can be prevented if the County anticipates where and how disasters will occur, and take steps to mitigate those damages.