In the early 1990s a new federal policy regarding disasters began to evolve. Rather than simply reacting whenever disasters strike communities, the federal government would encourage communities to first assess their vulnerability to various disasters, and then take actions to reduce or eliminate potential risks. The logic is simply that a disaster resistant community can rebound from a natural disaster with less loss of property or human injury, at much lower cost, and consequently more quickly. Moreover other costs associated with disasters, such as the time lost from productive activity by business and industries, are minimized.
The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Pub. Law 93-288, as amended) embodies this new philosophy. Section 409 of the Stafford Act sets forth the requirements that communities evaluate natural hazards within their respective jurisdictions and develop an appropriate plan of action to mitigate those hazards.
In 2000, the Stafford Act was amended once again to incorporate the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA 2000) (Pub. Law 106-390, as amended). The 2000 act amends Chapter 68 of Title 42 of the United States Code. Its provisions are titled DISASTER RELIEF - THE PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELFARE.The amended Stafford Act requires that the community identify potential hazards to the health, safety and well being of its residents and identify and prioritize actions that can be taken by the community to mitigate those hazards—before disaster strikes. For communities to remain eligible for hazard mitigation assistance from the federal government, they must first prepare a hazard mitigation plan (this plan).