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Hazard mitigation is any sustained action taken to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property from natural hazards and their effects. Hazard mitigation activities are dedicated to breaking the cycle of damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage. States, territories, Indian tribal governments, and communities are encouraged to take advantage of funding by Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant programs in both before and after disasters.

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Hazard Mitigation Planning

The purpose of hazard mitigation planning is to identify policies and actions that can be implemented over the long term to reduce risk and future losses of life, property, and economic injury.

State Hazard Mitigation Plan

The State of Iowa Hazard Mitigation Plan is an interagency plan that integrates local and State planning efforts through the State Hazard Mitigation Team and is comprised of representatives of several State, federal, and nonprofit agencies and associations, with the lead agency being HSEMD. Every five years, the team performs a hazard analysis and risk assessment in which hazards that may affect the state are identified. This information is then used to develop a Hazard Mitigation Strategy with goals, objectives, and measures to address the hazards.

If you would like to view the 2023 Iowa Hazard Mitigation Plan, contact a state hazard mitigation planner at 515-725-3231 or via email.

Iowa is one of only 15 states and territories that have an Enhanced Mitigation Plan that has been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Approval of an enhanced plan qualifies state and local governments to receive additional hazard mitigation disaster funding. In Iowa, this has made a difference of millions of dollars every year on average, which is crucial to funding projects to reduce or eliminate hazards and avoid disaster-caused damage and associated costs.

FEMA-approved local hazard mitigation plans are required in order to receive mitigation funding for state or local mitigation projects through the Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant program.

Local Hazard Mitigation Plans

Creating and maintaining current hazard mitigation plans (HMPs) is a requirement for State, Indian Tribal, and local governments to receive certain types of nonemergency disaster assistance—namely Hazard Mitigation Assistance. To qualify, local HMPs must be approved by FEMA within the last five years (i.e., they expire every five years and must be updated).

These plans are typically updated on a county-wide, multijurisdictional level, with county Emergency Management Agencies leading the effort. However, all jurisdictions seeking approval under the county-wide plan must participate in the planning process. Some counties also accomplish this planning on a region-wide or multi-county basis. Individual jurisdictions are also allowed to create or update local HMPs, although this is often a less efficient option.

Hazard mitigation grant programs provide significant opportunities to reduce or eliminate potential losses to State, Tribal, and local assets through hazard mitigation planning and project grant funding. As such, Iowa communities are encouraged to take advantage of funding provided by hazard mitigation programs in both the pre- and post-disaster timeframes.

Grant programs with mitigation plan requirements include:

  • Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP)
  • Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC)
  • Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA)
  • Public Assistance (PA)
  • Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) PDM is only available with project-specific Congressional appropriation.

It is important to note that the only way jurisdictions will be eligible for most of the disaster mitigation assistance available is by having a current, approved hazard mitigation plan. However, HMGP, BRIC, and FMA can be used to fund local hazard mitigation plan updates without a current plan. More information on these programs can be found on the Federal Emergency Management Agency website.

The HMA program has three sub-programs: Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC), Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) program, Pre-Disaster Mitigation program (PDM), and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). HMGP funding becomes available only when a Presidential Disaster Declaration is made. PDM is only available when a project is specifically funded by Congress (talk to your Congressperson for more information). BRIC and FMA funding are nationally competitive programs available annually. Check to see if there are any current HMA grant program funds available.

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Historic Preservation

In the course of executing your disaster recovery grant, you may encounter previously unknown cultural/historic artifacts. Please follow this process:

I. Treatment of Human Remains and Items of Religious and Cultural Significance

A. In the event that human remains are encountered during archaeological investigations or construction activity, ensure that the remains are left in place, that work within 100 feet of the remains will cease, the site will be secured, and the following entities will be contacted immediately upon discovery: local law enforcement, the State Medical Examiner, and the director of the Bioarchaeology Program at the OSA either directly or through the State Archaeologist. If the project is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), then notify the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEMD), FEMA, and the Iowa State Historic Preservation Officer within 24 hours.

B. All ancient human remains (over 150 years old) in Iowa are protected by the following sections of the Iowa Code: Chapter 263B, 523I.316(6), 685-11.1 and 716.5. Ancient human remains discovered on Federal and/or tribal lands as a result of the Undertaking are also protected under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) (25 U.S.C. 3001-3005).

C. If the remains are determined to be ancient, the Bioarchaeology Program at the OSA shall have jurisdiction to ensure that the Iowa Code as well as Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and its implementing regulations (43 CFR Part 10), as applicable, are observed. The disposition of the remains will be arranged by the director of the Bioarchaeology Program and the State Archaeologist in consultation with the culturally affiliated Tribe(s) and the OSA’s Indian Advisory Council, or other descendant communities as applicable.

D. Any dispute regarding the applicability of NAGPRA as a result of the Undertaking shall be resolved in accordance with 43 CFR Part 10.17.

E. If the remains are determined to be less than 150 years old, the Iowa Department of Public Health will be notified. The OSA will coordinate with the State Medical Examiner (SME) to determine the ancestry and antiquity of the remains. If remains are identified as Native American and not of medicolegal significance, the OSA will coordinate with the SME and Tribes to determine the appropriate disposition.

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Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP)

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