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Mitigation Success Stories in the United States (Edition 4 / January 2002)

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For over two decades, mitigation activities have been implemented across the country to save lives, reduce property damage and lessen the need for recovery funding. In many cases, mitigation success has been achieved following devastating disasters, when local officials and the general public have realized the need to effect change in their community. Major efforts to redu For over two decades, mitigation activities have been implemented across the country to save lives, reduce property damage and lessen the need for recovery funding. In many cases, mitigation success has been achieved following devastating disasters, when local officials and the general public have realized the need to effect change in their community. Major efforts to reduce flood damage in the nation include programs such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and Flood Mitigation Assistance Program. Of particular note is FEMA's funding of local acquisition programs, which have resulted in the relocation of 30,000 flood prone structures since 1993. Certainly structural projects have their place as well, such as dams, levees and locks undertaken by such agencies as the Army Corps of Engineers, Natural Resource Conservation Service and others. In the 21st Century, more and more communities are mitigating flood damage through a combination of approaches. As our country grows, flood damages are ever increasing. Annual flood losses in the United States continue to worsen, despite 75 years of federal flood control and 30 years of the National Flood Insurance Program. The general trend is for flood losses to increase every decade. Even though floods are the single most predictable natural hazard, the cost of flood damages per capita has doubled over the past century. Our average annual flood losses are currently estimated at $6 billion. Something must be done! Early mitigation activities, which focused on preventing loss of life, were being implemented as early as the 1880's. For instance, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, built the famous "Johnstown Incline Plane" in 1891 to lift people, horses and wagons to safety after a 37 foot wall of water hit the Conemaugh Valley in 1889. That flood killed more than 2,200 people! The Incline Plane carried people to safety during the 1936 and 1977 floods in Johnstown. It is now a focal point of an economic resurgence for the community. Mitigation Success Stories, Edition 4 showcases examples of natural hazard mitigation activities and publicizes the benefits of mitigation successes across the country from 39 communities in 24 states. The examples included in this document can serve as models for other communities and can provide decision-makers with valuable information about how to achieve natural hazard reduction.


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For over two decades, mitigation activities have been implemented across the country to save lives, reduce property damage and lessen the need for recovery funding. In many cases, mitigation success has been achieved following devastating disasters, when local officials and the general public have realized the need to effect change in their community. Major efforts to redu For over two decades, mitigation activities have been implemented across the country to save lives, reduce property damage and lessen the need for recovery funding. In many cases, mitigation success has been achieved following devastating disasters, when local officials and the general public have realized the need to effect change in their community. Major efforts to reduce flood damage in the nation include programs such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and Flood Mitigation Assistance Program. Of particular note is FEMA's funding of local acquisition programs, which have resulted in the relocation of 30,000 flood prone structures since 1993. Certainly structural projects have their place as well, such as dams, levees and locks undertaken by such agencies as the Army Corps of Engineers, Natural Resource Conservation Service and others. In the 21st Century, more and more communities are mitigating flood damage through a combination of approaches. As our country grows, flood damages are ever increasing. Annual flood losses in the United States continue to worsen, despite 75 years of federal flood control and 30 years of the National Flood Insurance Program. The general trend is for flood losses to increase every decade. Even though floods are the single most predictable natural hazard, the cost of flood damages per capita has doubled over the past century. Our average annual flood losses are currently estimated at $6 billion. Something must be done! Early mitigation activities, which focused on preventing loss of life, were being implemented as early as the 1880's. For instance, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, built the famous "Johnstown Incline Plane" in 1891 to lift people, horses and wagons to safety after a 37 foot wall of water hit the Conemaugh Valley in 1889. That flood killed more than 2,200 people! The Incline Plane carried people to safety during the 1936 and 1977 floods in Johnstown. It is now a focal point of an economic resurgence for the community. Mitigation Success Stories, Edition 4 showcases examples of natural hazard mitigation activities and publicizes the benefits of mitigation successes across the country from 39 communities in 24 states. The examples included in this document can serve as models for other communities and can provide decision-makers with valuable information about how to achieve natural hazard reduction.

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