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New Orleans Releases Updated Hazard Mitigation Plan, Seeks Community Input

NEW ORLEANS — Today, the City of New Orleans announced the release of its first multijurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan in draft form and encouraged residents and organizations passionate about community resilience to provide feedback by February 18, 2021.

Updated every five years, the Hazard Mitigation Plan documents the risks and vulnerabilities, both manmade and naturally occurring, that affect the New Orleans region. It also outlines an action-oriented, near-term strategy to reduce impacts from future disasters and to build community resilience. Over the course of 2019 and 2020, several partners and an advisory committee led by the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (NOHSEP) worked to update the plan, which was last adopted in 2016. Updates include current information about the science and policies that affect our risks and the strategy by which the City and its partners will work to address them.

“When faced with aging infrastructure, a cyber-attack, a global pandemic, and multiple hurricanes just in the past two years, the importance of investing in risk reduction is evident and critical,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “We cannot do this alone, and that’s why we’ve brought more partners to the drawing board than ever before. And now I’m asking that every resident get involved as well, because reducing risk is truly a community endeavor.”

For the first time ever, the City’s plan is multi-jurisdictional, with major stakeholders involved as signatories, including the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, Housing Authority of New Orleans, Orleans Parish School Board, and Tulane University.

“I’m excited about the innovative approach we have taken to updating the Hazard Mitigation Plan this time around,” said NOHSEP Hazard Mitigation Administrator Austin Feldbaum. “Working with multiple signatories means that together we have identified shared resilience goals, we’re increasing access to joint mitigation efforts and funding opportunities, and we’re leveraging resources to increase risk education and community outreach.”

Also new in this update is its web-based platform. Residents and stakeholders will be able to more easily access the plan and the data behind it online. By using the interactive and simplified format of a website, NOHSEP hopes residents will be more involved in understanding and providing feedback on what risks and action items have been identified.

Hazard mitigation planning is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) approach to risk reduction and is required for local jurisdictions to qualify for certain types of non-emergency disaster assistance. Having an updated hazard mitigation plan will allow the City and its partners to continue to access key funding sources for future mitigation projects.

“This Hazard Mitigation Plan is a plan for the future of New Orleans,” said Deputy CAO of Infrastructure Ramsey Green. “The City of New Orleans has rapidly become a model for the nation in how to plan, design, and build projects that make our city and region safe for the future. The City has shown that it is an effective steward of federal, state, and local funds—and putting this money to work rapidly—despite a pandemic and multiple other crises. This plan explains a thoughtful future rooted in science.”

To review and comment on the plan, visit ready.nola.gov/hazard-mitigation. Comments can be made online at the bottom of each page or can be emailed to hazardmitigation@nola.gov. Comments on the draft Hazard Mitigation Plan will be accepted through February 18, 2021. Written feedback on the plan follows four public meetings that were held in 2020 and community stakeholder engagement work that was done in the fall of 2019.

Once the comments have been accepted, a final draft will be sent to FEMA for review. Once approved by FEMA, the plan will be presented to the New Orleans City Council for adoption.

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