About the Project


Washington County Department of Public Safety is leading the update of the Washington County Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) for the County and its jurisdictions. This plan is an opportunity to detail a variety of potential hazards that could affect some or all of our residents and will also allow the County and the participating jurisdictions to be eligible for future mitigation funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), including the following grant opportunities:

  • Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP),
  • Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC), and
  • Flood Mitigation Assistance Program (FMA).

The goal of this plan is to identify projects that can reduce damages from future natural and non-natural hazards. The plan will include a risk assessment and a hazard mitigation strategy. The study will focus on existing buildings and potential future development, infrastructure, and community lifelines that might be impacted. Community lifelines are those facilities considered critical to the health and welfare of the population and that are especially important following a hazard. Community lifelines include essential facilities, transportation systems, lifeline utility systems, high-potential loss facilities, and hazardous material facilities.

Steering Committee

The Washington County Hazard Mitigation Plan Steering Committee’s purpose is to guide the planning process and provide input as needed for the content of the plan. Specifically, the Steering Committee was charged with the following:

  • Providing guidance and oversight of the planning process on behalf of the general planning partnership.
  • Attending and participating in Steering Committee meetings.
  • Assisting with the development and completion of certain planning elements, including:
    • Reviewing and updating the hazards of concern.
    • Developing a public and stakeholder outreach program.
    • Assuring that the data and information used in the plan update process are the best available.
    • Reviewing and updating the hazard mitigation goals.
    • Identifying and screening of appropriate mitigation strategies and activities.
  • Reviewing and commenting on plan documents prior to submission to NYS DHSES and FEMA.

Planning Partnership

The Planning Partnership is a combined group consisting of the Steering Committee and at least one representative from each municipality. Municipal Representatives provide direct input to jurisdictional-specific sections (annexes) of the plan regarding capabilities, hazard event history, and project development. The jurisdictions in Washington County have differing levels of capabilities and resources available to apply to the plan update process, and further, have differing exposure and vulnerability to the natural hazard risks being considered in this plan. Washington County’s intent was to encourage participation by all-inclusive jurisdictions and to accommodate their specific needs and limitations while still meeting the intents and purpose of plan update participation. Such accommodations have included the establishment of a Steering Committee, engaging a contract consultant to assume certain elements of the plan update process on behalf of the jurisdictions, and the provision of additional and alternative mechanisms to meet the purposes and intent of mitigation planning.


During the planning process, the Planning Partnership will actively be involving private sector, non-profit, and other community partners in the planning process. The approach is consistent with the “Whole Community Approach,” which seeks to involve the entire community in disaster and hazard planning.


The objectives of the Washington County HMP planning process are:

  • Provide the public opportunities throughout the plan development and drafting process to provide input.
  • Conduct a thorough risk assessment using the most recent disaster data and information.
  • Formulate hazard mitigation goals, objectives, and actions as they relate to reducing loss of life and property from natural and human-caused hazards.
  • Obtain state and federal approval of the HMP.

Hazard Mitigation Planning Process Summary

This hazard mitigation planning process involves eight tasks:

TASK 1: Organize the Planning Effort
Relevant studies, plans, and reports are collected along with communications resources that allow the public to be involved throughout the planning process. The Steering Committee is formed, consisting of Jefferson County departmental representatives. A Planning Partnership is built, consisting of municipal representatives, local and regional stakeholders, and members of the Steering Committee.

TASK 2: Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment
Potential locations and geographic extent of natural and human-caused hazards that can affect the county are identified along with their impacts and future probability. Scientific and anecdotal evidence of past events is collected and evaluated, and the hazards and losses the community has sustained are ranked high to low.

TASK 3: Vulnerability Assessment
Vulnerability is the susceptibility of people, property, industry, resources, ecosystems, or historical buildings and artifacts to the negative impact of a disaster. The vulnerability assessment provides the extent of injury and damages that may result from a hazard event of a given intensity in the project area.

TASK 4: Capability Assessment and Resource Integration
The capability assessment is a critical part of the planning process. It helps identify and evaluate the resources that are in place, or need to be in place, to reduce risk and improve resilience. Capability assessment findings will help develop a stronger mitigation strategy based on a more realistic understanding of the ability to take action. Local capabilities in emergency management, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), planning and regulatory authority, administrative and technical knowledge, finances, and education and outreach are assessed.

TASK 5: Mitigation Strategy and Actions and Plan Integration
Goals, objectives, and actions and are evaluated and updated as needed. The planning team defines appropriate mitigation techniques and chooses and prioritizes mitigation actions and projects in the mitigation strategy. A process for integrating the updated Mitigation Strategy into existing plans and reports is outlined and a plan for continued public outreach and participation will also be determined.

TASK 6: Implementation and Plan Maintenance
The HMP is a living document that must be regularly reviewed, updated, and maintained. A schedule including responsible parties or agencies involved with monitoring, evaluating, and updating the plan during its 5-year cycle is prepared.

TASK 7: Draft Plan
The draft plan is made available for public comment then submitted to the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (NYS DHSES) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for review and approval. Once the plan has been determined to meet all state and federal requirements and receives official approval, it should be adopted by all participating jurisdictions.

TASK 8: Plan Adoption
Once the plan has been determined to meet all state and federal requirements and receives official approval, it should be adopted by all participating jurisdictions.