Beyond the Basics is the product of a 5-year research study* conducted by the Coastal Hazards Center and the Center for Sustainable Community Design at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC).  As part of this study, researchers at UNC systematically analyzed 175 local hazard mitigation plans drawn from six states (CA, GA, LA, NC, TX and WA) to assess their content and quality.  Each plan was evaluated using a hazard mitigation plan quality protocol that has been developed, tested and applied over several projects across the country.

This website features numerous examples and best practices that were drawn from high quality hazard mitigation plans identified as part of the UNC study.  High quality plans combine the best available scientific knowledge with informal knowledge of residents and officials familiar with the needs and assets of local communities, and coordinate with community programs aimed at economic, environmental, housing, and infrastructure policies to leverage limited resources in support of mitigation.  In addition, other examples and best practices were included in this website based on recommendations from State Hazard Mitigation Officers and a national advisory board.

Most of the text, as well as the design of the website, was drawn from FEMA’s Local Mitigation Planning Handbook.  Thus, the website includes everything you need to meet the basic requirements for approval from FEMA. However, some sections of the FEMA handbook have been expanded in this website to highlight best practices, include additional examples, address weaknesses or shortfalls commonly found in hazard mitigation plans, and to suggest ways in which mitigation plans could be strengthened. Hence the name, Beyond the Basics.

*For more information on this research project or for a list of more resources on the topic please see the Research and Resources pages.