The State of Ohio Hazard Mitigation Plan (SOHMP) contains information on natural hazards that could impact Ohio and the state's blueprint for reducing the risk posed by those hazards. The highest priority hazards in Ohio include: riverine flooding, tornadoes, winter storms, landslides, dam/levee failure, wildfire, coastal flooding/seiche, earthquakes, coastal erosion, drought, severe summer storms, invasive species, and land subsidence. The plan identifies actions that the State of Ohio will undertake to help protect people and property from natural hazards and their effects.
According to the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, all states must have a natural hazard mitigation plan approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in order to maintain eligibility for federal disaster assistance and mitigation funds. The State of Ohio Hazard Mitigation Plan was first approved by FEMA in 2005 and has been updated five times since the initial approval by FEMA. A recent change in federal regulations requires that the plan be updated and approved by FEMA every five years.
The turn of the millennia witnessed a dramatic change in how our Nation prepares for and responds to disasters. The passage of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA2K) reoriented the focus of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) programs to promote projects and plans which reduce the exposure of Americans and their property to natural hazards. In 2002 Congress further defined how to implement DMA2K by publishing rules in the Federal Register containing criteria for state mitigation plan content. Ohio must have a FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan to remain eligible for Federal Mitigation and Public Assistance funds associated with a Presidential disaster declaration.
The development of the state plan began in 2002, and it involved the participation of numerous state and federal agencies, adjacent state EMA representatives, and various subject-matter experts. The plan was approved by FEMA in 2005 and updated and re-approved in 2008, 2011, 2012, and 2014. The 2019 revision of the plan analyzes Ohio's highest priority hazards: flooding, tornado, winter storm, landslide, dam/levee failure, wildfire, coastal flooding/seiche, earthquake, coastal erosion, drought, severe summer storm, invasive species, and land subsidence. The plan also evaluates future and emerging hazard risks. The state's vulnerability to those hazards is analyzed utilizing data from multiple sources to evaluate risk including: HAZUS software, historical damage data, input from subject-matter experts, and information from local hazard mitigation plans. The state hazard mitigation plan describes the unique vulnerabilities associated with the highest priority hazards in Ohio.
The plan also includes a statewide blueprint of actions that will mitigate the risk to the identified hazards. The State Mitigation Strategy includes: goals, objectives, and action items that will help reduce risk, an evaluation of state capability to accomplish this task, and identification of available funding sources. The State Mitigation Strategy is outlined in broad terms by the following goals described in this plan update:
- Reduce loss of life and injury from hazard events;
- Minimize damage to property and societal disruptions from hazard events;
- Integrate hazard mitigation into policies and programs;
- Eliminate vulnerable flood-prone repetitive loss structures;
- Promote research, education, and outreach activities to create a culture of mitigation in Ohio; and
- Provide leadership in hazard mitigation in Ohio.
Each of these goals has associated objectives and actions aimed at getting the state closer to realizing community resiliency. For example, Ohio EMA developed the Ohio Safe Room Rebate Program. This program provides funding to homeowners for the construction/installation of a safe room that is capable of providing near-absolute protection from a tornado with 250 mph wind speeds.
The statewide blueprint for hazard reduction is only part of the solution. To effectively reduce hazard exposure the state plan must reflect the goals, objectives, and actions identified in local mitigation planning efforts. While the state has a goal of eliminating structures that are repetitively flooded, it is local planning that leads to the projects that will mitigate those properties. The state plan contains information from various local hazard mitigation plans, ranging from hazard identification and vulnerability analysis to specific, community mitigation objectives and actions.
Ohio's mitigation plan addresses each required element for "standard" plan approval in 44 CFR 201.4 and "enhanced" plan approval in 44 CRF 201.5. Ohio is one of only twelve states that currently meet enhanced plan criteria. The enhanced plan status designation is a recognition of Ohio's comprehensive mitigation program and qualifies the state for additional Federal mitigation funds following future disasters.