4. Summarize vulnerability

The previous three steps in the risk assessment process generate large amounts of information regarding hazards, vulnerable assets, and potential impacts and losses. This information needs to be summarized so that the community can understand and rank the most significant risks and vulnerabilities, not only to inform the mitigation strategy, but also to communicate findings to elected officials and other stakeholders to support their decision making. The plan must provide an overall summary of each jurisdiction’s vulnerability to the identified hazards.

Best Practice

Harris County, TX

Harris County’s plan was chosen as a best practice because it provides a summary of the major areas for concern in the county and specifies which jurisdictions are particularly vulnerable to identified hazards. The excerpt below provides a narrative of the planning area’s vulnerability to toxic-related hazards.

“Due to the large petrochemical industry located in the East-Southeastern region of the County, jurisdictions in this area such as but not limited to Deer Park, La Porte, Pasadena, Jacinto City, Galena Park, Baytown, and Unincorporated Harris County, have a heightened risk for Toxic Release/Haz-Mat incidents due to their close proximity with these industrial facilities. Due to the increased number of pipelines running through the area, it can be assumed that, jurisdictions to the North and East of the planning area, such as, but not limited to, Taylor Lake Village, El Lago, Seabrook, Pasadena, La Porte, Deer Park, Shoreacres, Morgan’s Point, Baytown, Jacinto City, Galena Park, Humble, Jersey Village, and Unincorporated Harris County have the highest risk for a pipeline incident. Many of the pipelines connect the facilities within the industrial sector on the East-Southeastern side of the county as mentioned previously.”

One recommended approach is to develop problem statements. For instance, your analysis of impacts and losses helps you to identify which critical facilities are located in identified hazard areas, the neighborhood that has experienced the most flood damage in the past, or which hazard-prone areas are zoned for future development. This information on the issues of greatest concern can be summarized into problem statements. The planning team may evaluate the impacts and develop problem statements for each hazard, as well as identify the problems or issues that apply to all hazards.

Plan updates will need to revise the problems statements to reflect the current risk assessment. This may include developing new statements and removing or revising ones that are no longer valid because mitigation projects have addressed the risk or other conditions have changed.