Identifying potential planning team members may be fairly straightforward; however, persuading individuals with competing priorities to invest time and energy in the mitigation planning process can be challenging.
It is important to determine what planning team members are expected to contribute as well as how they will be invited to participate. While updating the plan, you should consider what worked well or did not during the previous planning process. The following are approaches for recruiting potential team members that have worked for other communities:
- After sending an email or letter of invitation, follow it up with a phone call to emphasize why participation is needed and to answer any questions.
- Send a formal invitation signed by the mayor, elected official, or department head.
- Plan the initial meeting at a convenient time and location for everyone.
- Provide beverages and food at meetings to bolster attendance.
The people invited to participate want to know what is expected of their participation and why their presence is important. For example:
- Local community planners can help the planning team understand past, current, and future community development trends, the policies or activities that affect development, and the relationship between hazards and development.
- Emergency managers are first responders to disasters, have information on past occurrences and existing preparedness measures, and have a direct line of communication with the state emergency management agency.
- GIS specialists can analyze and map data to support the planning process and communicate complex information, such as the locations of assets at risk in hazard-prone areas and estimates of damage for a particular disaster scenario.
- Public works/engineering staff can help identify current or projected problems for the community’s infrastructure that can be addressed through capital improvements supported by the mitigation plan.
- Elected and executive officials are mindful of the community as a whole and can communicate how the mitigation plan will support other social, economic, or environmental goals of the community.
- Floodplain administrators provide information on your community’s flood hazard maps, floodplain ordinance, repetitive loss properties, and actions to continue compliance with the National Flood Insurance Program and reduce flood losses.
- State and Federal partners provide available data, understand how to identify and leverage resources across agencies, and can identify state and Federal programs with complementary missions.
Planning efforts can be more successful if the team is designated with some official authority to develop the mitigation plan. Therefore, the planning team can obtain official recognition in the form of a council resolution or a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). This demonstrates community support, increases commitment to the process, and improves the likelihood that mitigation actions identified in the plan will be implemented successfully. See Worksheet 1.2 for an example MOA.
Louisville Metro Area, KY
Louisville Metro Area’s Hazard Mitigation Plan was selected as a best practice because the process offered the public numerous opportunities to participate. The planning process utilized traditional and new media to engage the public including newspapers, TV interviews, mass mailings and websites.
Pinellas County, FL
Pinellas County formed a Public Outreach Committee and developed a Public Outreach Plan to ensure the public was adequately engaged. As stated in the plan:
“The plan seeks to involve as many stakeholders and interested citizens in the planning process as possible. The committee was charged with the task of creating an overall strategy to expand participation in the planning process as well as to increase awareness of mitigation opportunities.”