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HomeMitigation Publications
Mitigation Publications
FEMA Publications:                                                                                                          
Mitigation Planning "How-To" Guides
These guides explain specific planning topics in and provide adaptable tools to meet or exceed FEMA's requirements.

Mitigation Planning How-To Guide # 1 (FEMA 386-1), the first guide in the State and Local Mitigation Planning How-To Series, discusses the activities and issues involved in initiating a hazard mitigation planning process. The topics are presented within the context of the beginning phase of the mitigation planning process, although many activities will continue throughout the process. The effort put into identifying and organizing resources early on will pay dividends later as they progress through some of the more challenging tasks of mitigation planning. This how-to guide covers not only this first phase of the planning process, but also provides snapshots of later phases. Planners will be able to begin the process knowing ahead of time what types of resources they may need to call upon in the future. Last, but perhaps most important, elected officials, community staff, citizens, and businesses will benefit from the knowledge, organization, positive attitude, and energy that you and your team demonstrate.


Mitigation Planning How-To Guide # 2 (FEMA 386-2), the second guide in the State and Local Mitigation Planning How-To Series, provides step-by-step guidance on how to perform a risk assessment. Through a series of general and hazard-specific guidance and worksheets, the guide will help State, Indian Tribal, and local planning teams determine (1) which natural hazards could affect a jurisdiction; (2) what areas of the jurisdiction are vulnerable to the hazards; (3) what assets will be affected; and (4) to what degree they will be affected, as measured through dollar losses. This Guide is multi-hazard in scope, addressing flood, earthquake, tsunami, tornado, coastal storm, landslide and wildfire hazards. For communities dealing with multiple hazards, guidance is also provided on how to develop a composite loss estimate. Once the risk assessment is completed, State. Indian Tribal, and local officials will have the information necessary to develop a strategy and plan for reducing their losses.


Mitigation Planning How-To Guide # 3 (FEMA 386-3, the third guide in the State And Local Mitigation Planning How-To Series, is about developing the mitigation strategy and documenting the planning process. This Guide builds on the resources and organizational framework discussed in Mitigation Planning How-To Guide # 1 (FEMA 386-1) and the results of the loss estimation conducted according to Mitigation Planning How-To Guide # 2 (FEMA 386-2). This Guide provides planners the tools necessary to develop mitigation goals and objectives, identify and prioritize mitigation actions, formulate an implementation strategy, and assemble the planning document.


Mitigation Planning How-To Guide #4, the fourth guide in the State and Local Mitigation Planning How-To Series, discusses how to implement the hazard mitigation plan. The implementation process puts the planning team's hard work into motion and focuses on the actions necessary to establish and maintain the effectiveness of the plan as a fundamental tool for risk reduction. This Guide leads communities, States, Indian Tribal, and other entities through the formal adoption of the plan and discusses how to implement, monitor, and evaluate the results of mitigation actions to keep the mitigation plan relevant over time.

Mitigation Planning How-To Guide #5 (FEMA 386-5) helps local jurisdictions apply the concepts of Benefit-Cost Review to prioritize mitigation actions to meet FEMA requirements. The purpose of a mitigation plan is to reduce the community’s vulnerability to hazards. After assessing a community may consider many options. Due to monetary and other limitations, it is often impossible to implement all actions. The Planning team should select the most cost-effective actions to implement first, not only to use resources efficiently, but to make a realistic start toward mitigation. FEMA regulations support cost-effectiveness by requiring mitigation plans to have a plan including prioritization with special emphasis on maximization of benefits over costs. NOTE: The Benefit-Cost Review for mitigation planning differs from the benefit-cost analysis (BCA) used in grant applications. Refer to the mitigation grant program guidance for specific instructions on how to complete BCA requirements for grant applications. 

The importance of integrating historic property and cultural resource considerations into mitigation planning has been made all too apparent in disasters that have occurred in recent disasters, such as the Northridge Earthquake, the Midwest floods, and Hurricane Katrina. Whether a disaster impacts a major community museum, a historic "main street," or collections of family photographs, the sudden loss of historic properties and cultural resources can negatively impact a community's character and economy, and can affect the overall ability of the community to recover from a disaster. "How-To" Guide #6 (FEMA 386-6) shows communities, step by step with the needed tools and resources, how to develop and then implement a pre-disaster planning strategy for historic properties and cultural resources. While the emphasis is on the built environment, this Guide includes cultural institutions to address the mitigation of cultural heritage, including museum collections, works of art, and books and documents.


Although mitigation planning traditionally focused on planning for natural hazards, events such as the September 11, 2001, attacks, the July 2001 Baltimore hazardous material train derailment suggested that the time had come to incorporate terrorism and technological hazards into all aspects of emergency management planning, not just preparedness and response. Scores of smaller-scale incidents and accidents reinforced the need for communities to reduce their vulnerability to future terrorist acts and technological disasters. How-To Guide # 7 (FEMA 386-7) assumes that a community is engaged in the mitigation planning process and serves as a resource to help the community expand the scope of its plan to address terrorism and technological hazards. ** FEMA provides state and local governments with preparedness program funding in the form of Non-Disaster Grants to enhance the capacity of state and local emergency responders to prevent, respond to, and recover from a weapons of mass destruction terrorism incident involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive devices and cyber attacks. For more information, please see the Preparedness Grants Program page at To find funding opportunities with other Federal agencies, please visit the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance web site at

Mitigation Planning How-To Guide #8, (FEMA 386-8), the eighth guide in the State and Local Mitigation Planning How-To Series, provides suggestions to local governments for preparing multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plans. A multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plan is a plan prepared jointly by more than one jurisdiction and may include any county, municipality, city, town, township, school district or other special district, council of governments or other regional organization, Indian tribe or Alaska Native village, or unincorporated areas. Multi-jurisdictional plans pose special considerations that single-jurisdiction plans may not need to address; but there are benefits as well, such as cost savings to prepare plans, shared staff and resources, and comprehensive approaches to mitigation hazards that cross jurisdictional boundaries. 
How-To Guide #9 (FEMA 386-9) shows how a community can move from the hazard mitigation plan to developing mitigation projects that may be implemented fully using FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance as appropriate. This Guide explains the process of developing the scope of a project, identifies the key components of a successful mitigation project funding application, and describes how to identify funding available through FEMA and other agencies. This Guide explains how valuable information in the mitigation plan can be used to develop the project scope of work and how to use lessons learned through the implementation of mitigation projects to improve the mitigation plan when it is updated. This Guide is intended for grant writers, project developers, planners, emergency managers, and community leaders. It is particularly helpful for State, Tribal, and local government officials, department heads, nonprofit organizations, and other parties responsible for implementing hazard mitigation actions.
Other FEMA Mitigation Publications
Provides practical guidance on how to incorporate risk reduction strategies into existing local plans, policies, codes, and programs that guide community development or redevelopment patterns. It includes recommended steps and tools to assist with local integration efforts, along with ideas for overcoming possible impediments, and presents a series of case studies to demonstrate successful integration in practice. The document also includes several pull-out fact sheets to provide succinct guidance on specific integration topics.  This resource is intended for those who are engaged in any type of local planning, but primarily community planners and emergency managers who are involved with hazard mitigation planning and implementation. This guide was produced with extensive outreach to relevant subject matter experts and the involvement of stakeholder representatives from local communities, State and Federal agencies, academic institutions, private sector companies, and non-profit organizations.