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King County is committed to creating and sustaining communities that are more resilient to disasters. To fulfill this pledge, King County Emergency Management (KCEM) has recently updated the Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan (RHMP) in partnership with cities and special purpose districts throughout the County. Federal compliance rules require this plan be updated every five years.

Representatives from King County and 55 different cities, schools, fire districts, hospitals and utility districts worked in partnership with KCEM and Tetra Tech Incorporated - the contractor leading the hazard assessment and plan development. Decisions regarding plan elements, such as specific hazards to include, were made by a steering committee whose members include representatives from government, private business, non-profits, the public, and academia. 

In 2015, the final updated plan was approved by Washington State EMD and FEMA. King County and most partnering jurisdictions have formally adopted their plans. See the list of participating jurisdictions.

The original RHMP is divided into seven sections:

Since its initial approval in 2015, more communities have joined the RHMP as "Linked Annexes":

Other Important documents:

Question:  What is hazard mitigation and what is a Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP)?  

Answer:  Hazard mitigation is defined as any sustained action taken to permanently eliminate or reduce long-term risks to human life and property from natural hazards. A Hazard Mitigation Plan is prepared by local governments in response to the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-390). These plans allow access to federal funding afforded under the Robert T. Stafford Act. These plans meet statutory requirements that include:
  • Organizing resources
  • Assessing risk
  • Engaging the public
  • Identifying goals and objectives
  • Identifying actions
  • Developing plan maintenance and implementation strategies
The foundation of any mitigation plan is a risk assessment that looks at natural hazards of concern within a planning area. The principle objective of a mitigation plan is an action plan that identifies and prioritizes initiatives that are sustainable, cost-effective, and will avoid future impacts and losses to the hazards that may affect the jurisdiction.

Question:  Why do counties do HMPs?

Answer: To help build disaster-resilient communities. The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 requires states and local jurisdictions to prepare and submit a hazard mitigation plan to the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Without an approved plan in place, the jurisdiction is out of compliance with the Act, thereby limiting eligibility for post-disaster mitigation grant funding available under the Robert T. Stafford Act. This funding is typically used for hazard mitigation and disaster recovery projects/programs. State plans are required to be updated every three years, and local jurisdictional plans must be updated every five years.

Question:  What should a jurisdiction do with the results of a HMP?

Answer:  Local governments should strive to implement the plan based on the priorities established through the planning process.

Question:  What natural hazards are assessed in a HMP?

Answer:  Local plans must be consistent with the State Hazard Mitigation Plan. The State identifies the minimum number of hazards of concern to be addressed by each local plan. For our region this plan covers avalanche, dam failure, earthquake, flood, landslide, severe weather, severe winter weather, tsunami, volcano and wildfire. While not an explicit requirement of the Disaster Mitigation Act, some jurisdictions also seek to include technological and terrorism risk in their risk planning program to evaluate such. 

Question:  How is the 2014 HMP plan different from previous plans? What’s new?

Answer:  The King County Office of Emergency Management used the current update process to make significant changes to the format and content of the regional plan. The plan was re-packaged to better support a larger partnership and to establish a plan maintenance and implementation protocol that clearly defines the King County Office of Emergency Management’s commitment to the plan’s ongoing success:
  • The planning partnership was increased to 53 planning partners including King County, cities, school districts, fire districts, utilities, hospitals and more. 

  • The plan was developed in two volumes. Volume 1 contains all required elements that apply to the entire planning area; Volume 2 contains elements that are jurisdiction-specific.
  • A comprehensive risk assessment is included for 10 hazards of concern, and an overview is provided for other hazards of interest.

  • The risk assessments made use of FEMA’s Hazus-MH risk assessment software.

  • A risk-ranking methodology was implemented that quantifies the impacts of each hazard so that each can be compared to the others.

  • A new methodology was implemented for prioritizing actions. 

  • A plan maintenance strategy is presented that includes a protocol and tools to support annual progress reporting, as well as a protocol for grant coordination. 

  • A prescribed linkage procedure will allow for future expansion of the partnership outside of the five-year update window.

  • A suite of tools and templates is provided to promote consistency of all future updates to the plan

  • July 2014 public meetings (presentation)
  • Plan and process overview (King County Council)
  • Community outreach (2013 Public forum)
  • July 2014 public meetings (presentation)
  • Plan and process overview (King County Council)
  • Community outreach (2013 Public forum)
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