Initial Steps for the Planning Team

The mitigation planning process generally includes a series of meetings or work sessions. For example, the first meeting of the planning team, or the plan kickoff meeting, may focus on introducing team members, describing the overall purpose of the plan, defining the team’s responsibilities, validating the project scope and schedule, and brainstorming who else should be involved in the planning process. Some suggested outcomes of a planning team kickoff meeting are:

1. Confirming the plan purpose
2. Reviewing the current mitigation plan
3. Refining the plan scope and schedule
4. Establishing responsibilities
5. Developing an outreach strategy

1. Confirm plan purpose. The planning team should start by agreeing on the overall purpose of the planning process and the outcome that the community seeks to accomplish as the plan is implemented. Some communities develop a mission statement that drives the process and describes in a short, simple statement the intended outcome. This helps unite the planning team around a common purpose and provides a foundation for the rest of the planning process. This also helps to communicate the reason for the plan to stakeholders, elected officials, and the public. If you received a mitigation planning grant from FEMA, the grant may include language regarding the overall purpose of the plan that could be incorporated. The plan’s scope of work often includes more information on the background and objectives of the planning project, as well.

Best Practices

New Hanover County, NC

New Hanover used a creative exercise at its first committee meeting to break the ice and help set priorities for the plan.

“Participants were given $20.00 in fake FEMA money to spend in the categories of Prevention, Property Protection, Natural Resource Protection, Structural Projects, Emergency Services, and Public Education/Awareness. The money could be divided in any way to show interest in a single or multiple mitigation categories. The results were shared, but were to be discussed further in the next meeting. The intent of the exercise is to show where the community’s mitigation priorities may lie.”

Shoshone County, ID

Shoshone County’s Plan was identified as a best practice because its mission and vision statements contain a clear description of the aims of the plan and the scope of work involved in achieving them.

Mission Statement – To make Shoshone County residents, communities, and businesses less vulnerable to the negative effects of natural hazards through the effective administration of hazard mitigation grant programs, hazard risk assessments, wise and efficient mitigation measures, and a coordinated approach to mitigation policy through county, state, federal, regional, and local planning efforts. Our combined prioritization is the protection of people, structures, infrastructure, economy, and unique ecosystems that contribute to our way of life and the sustainability of the local and regional economy.

Vision Statement – Institutionalize and promote a county-wide hazard mitigation ethic through leadership, professionalism, and excellence, leading the way to a safe, sustainable Shoshone County and local municipalities.

 2. Review the current mitigation plan.  If updating your mitigation plan, a general review of your community’s previously approved plan can provide a good starting point for identifying ideas for improvement and areas that may require more time and resources. This can impact the plan’s scope and schedule.

Best Practices

Roseville, CA

Roseville was chosen as a best practice because it presents a clear methodology for reviewing the previous plan to ensure that the new plan is relevant and up to date. The excerpt from the 2011 plan, shown below, lists the five phases of the plan’s development. Phase 1 and Phase 2 are further detailed in the plan’s text (not shown) and they include reviewing California’s State Hazard Mitigation Plan, reviewing the 2005 version of Roseville’s plan and following FEMA’s then new guidelines for comprehensive updates to the risk assessment.


 3. Refine plan scope and schedule.  The kickoff meeting is a good time for the planning team to agree upon the overall scope of work and schedule for developing or updating the mitigation plan and review the requirements of a hazard mitigation plan for FEMA approval. If you received a grant to develop the plan, the scope of work and schedule may already be developed, or the grant may serve as the starting point for a more detailed work plan. It is important that everyone walks away from the kickoff meeting with an understanding of the overall project purpose, schedule, and tasks, as well as the agendas and goals for future planning team meetings. The remaining tasks in this website can help you to establish a schedule and agenda items for future meetings. A sample schedule is given in Worskheet 2.2.

4. Establish responsibilities. The planning team can establish roles and responsibilities at the beginning of the planning process. The planning team members should have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities, as well as how much time they may need to dedicate to the project. This can help you identify, early in the planning process, any potential gaps or shortfalls in resources needed to complete the mitigation plan.

Best Practice

Medina County, OH

Medina County was chosen as a best practice community because it formed several subcommittees at their mitigation planning kickoff meeting. The subcommittees included the Executive Committee, Natural Resources Inventory, Subdivision Revision and Public Education Committee. The plan includes a brief description of each of the committees and lists its members. The work of these committees was used for the creation of the County’s 2003 Hazard Mitigation Plan.


5. Develop an outreach strategy.  One critical task of the planning team is determining who else needs to be involved in the mitigation planning process and how. An outreach strategy identifies the stakeholder groups that are important to involve in the process and how to engage them. The planning team also develops ideas for how to involve the general public in the planning process. Task 3 – Create an Outreach Strategy describes how to develop a comprehensive approach to engaging stakeholders and the public in the mitigation planning process.