Community Planning and Resilience: It’s about where and how we build

Information sent by Nassau County Emergency
Operations Center
Martha L. Oberdorfer, MPH, CPH, FPEM
Senior Planner / Accreditation Manager
October 25, 2018 10:00 a.m.

Region 8 Presentation at Colorado Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM)October is National Community Planning Month – a nationally-recognized initiative led by the American Planning Association (APA) that focuses on the importance of community planning and its impacts. Community planners are important players when it comes to shaping communities – be it through transportation, housing, the environment, or land use.

When it comes to mitigation, planners have the capability to directly reduce the impact of disaster through the way they choose to design and build communities. Tools like land use, zoning, easements, and building codes can be harnessed to reduce a community’s risk to natural hazards in long-lasting ways. After all, the safest community is the one that encourages development away from hazard-prone areas, and actively plans for its potential risks.

The state of Colorado took this idea to heart after the 2013 Front Range flood. After the event, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ (DOLA) Community Development Office developed the Planning for Hazards: Land Use Solutions for Colorado guide. “Planning for Hazards” illustrates how Colorado local governments can manage their risk through planning mechanisms. Last year, DOLA worked with the Colorado Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) and FEMA Region 8 to develop a more targeted training workshop that would lead municipalities through enacting a land use tool for hazard mitigation. Two pilot workshops were held in 2018, one focused on wildfire and one on flooding.

This was not an average workshop. Communities needed to apply to participate and were expected to be able to implement their identified land use mitigation action(s) within one year of attending the workshop.

They were not doing it alone, though. Each community had access to subject matter experts throughout the process. Using a series of “Roadmaps,” the workshops led the communities step-by-step through implementing their selected solution – from selecting the right land use tool to working through the nitty gritty, to getting buy in. DOLA, DHSEMA, and FEMA will continue to work with the communities on implementing the solutions developed through a series of technical assistance calls.

This October, join us in promoting and celebrating the positive impacts of planning for hazards by exploring, understanding, and planning for hazards in your community and beyond.

For more information on Mitigation Planning, visit: