Supports and Barriers to the Integration of Hazard Mitigation Plans Into Local Comprehensive Plans
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In 2000, the U.S. federal government passed the Disaster Mitigation Act, which required local governments to adopt hazard mitigation plans (HMPs) to address natural and man-made hazards. Most HMPs are developed as!unenforceable, stand alone documents that have little or no connections with other local plans. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encourages localities with a HMP to link and integrate it with other local plans that do have legal standing, such as local comprehensive plans. Lewis(2011) asked to what extent county HMPs were being integrated into county comprehensive plans and found that little was being done. This study assesses why this might be the case through the identification and analysis of the supporting and barrier factors counties face during integration of these two plans. Six county planners were interviewed in this process; three resided in counties Lewis identified as having a higher integration score, and three resided in counties Lewis identified as having a lower integration score. The results reveal little to no difference between higher and lower scoring counties in regards to their perception of supports and barriers. However, strong staff and political leadership, strong community awareness of hazards, and a history of hazard events affecting the community were consistent supporting factors, while a poor understanding of what integration looks like, pushback against over regulation, and a question of responsibility for integration were consistent barrier factors. These results led to suggestions for improving the integration between HMPs and county level comprehensive plans for government agencies, county governments, and assistance organizations.