Management and Mitigation
Land use planning, by law, is intended to advance legitimate state purposes relating to public health, safety, and welfare. Part of this requires establishing policy objectives and programs that support the creation of disaster mitigation efforts and post-disaster recovery and reconstruction plans to advance public safety and economic recovery. Planners take great care to separate residential housing from noxious industrial fumes and vibrations, or to establish minimum distances of churches and schools from certain businesses. It make no less sense to keep development safe from floods and landslides. Allowing unwise and inadequately protected development in locations at risk from serious dangers from natural hazards would be a failure of planners to serve one of their most vital public functions.
Preparation for the plan requires that you (1) identify and map the community’s natural hazards; and (2) document and quantify what’s at risk.
A good first step is anticipating the consequences of a disaster to facilitate identifying the strategies and resources needed for later. Identifying the potential for hazards helps to focus on the kinds of impact assessment needed to develop contingency plans to facilitate post-disaster recovery. Inventories can be taken to assess the for potential structural damage or economic impact. Different impacts on different communities should be considered. For example, low-income communities may suffer disproportionate damage as a result of the relative age of the housing stock and residents' financial capacity to take mitigation measures. A pre-disaster strategy helps identify vulnerable buildings and infrastructure, then program needed improvements into budget priorities and work with private property owners to set programs in motion to prevent future harm. Identifying historic properties in hazard-prone areas and proposing mitigation techniques should include Register listed and Register eligible properties.
Immediately after a disaster occurs, the potential for chaos and confusion is substantial. There are numerous people and organizations that are serving at cross-purposes and decisions must be made quickly before new problems arise that urgently demand resolution. As a result, it is crucial that a disaster recovery plan provides guidance and a framework for decision-makers. Such guidance must provide decision makers with policy objectives their decisions must aim to achieve to help minimize unintended consequences and to keep all players working toward the same goals. Recovery and reconstruction plans can highlight essential objectives like preservation.
Preservation and Disaster Mitigation Strategies
Note that each state has a state-level mitigation plan that all local planners in that state can request from their state emergency management office. Remember, however, not all of these address historic preservation. Please read the following mitigation strategies to get an idea of what state and local governments consider to be important elements:
Linking with Other Plans. Disasters disrupt multiple aspects of normal community activity; few aspects of a city’s operations are unaffected. Disaster recovery plans can be prepared as a stand-alone document, but ideally there should be linkages with other comprehensive plan elements and other elements of a city’s plans including neighborhood plans, area and corridor plans, downtown and business district plans to answer questions as to how activity, infrastructure, and architecture will be restored in the aftermath of a disaster,
Linking with Land-Use Regulations. Post-disaster you may also be faced with dealing with damaged historic properties. Some places already have regulations in place that address the condemnation process for these resources in the event that they need to be demolished, providing procedures, timeframes, necessary parties to the demolition determination, notification procedures, and the disposition of the salvaged materials.
Take a few moments to watch this HUD video on disaster resilience.
Disaster Recovery Assistance
Plans for hazard mitigation of historic properties in a post-disaster plan should take account of opportunities for funding assistance. In the event that a disaster occurs resulting in damages to historic resources, recovery assistance programs are available. These programs provide economic and technical assistance for recovery through state and federal funding and professional guidance for preservation, mitigation, and restoration efforts. There are FEMA Federal Disaster Recovery Programs that provide individual assistance and public assistance grant programs, the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program, and many states have their own historic preservation grant programs that offer small matching grants or special category grants.
Federal Disaster Recovery Programs have the advantage of a generally faster funding process, the possible inclusion of reimbursements for completed disaster work, and potential coverage of the costs of hazard mitigation. These programs also provide more immediate assistance with scope of work formulations, cost estimating, and assistance with environmental/historic compliance issues. Further, there are more expenses that are eligible for coverage. There are also, however, disadvantages. Under these programs, eligible work is limited to disaster-related recovery and hazard mitigation. There is also a Section 106 Review requirement. Federal programs can have shorter completion time requirements, may require reductions in funding to respond to insurance claims proceeds, and mandate insurance coverage of repaired elements.
Individuals and households are eligible for funding under the Individuals and Households Program (IHP) for homes damaged by a major disaster. restoration to pre-disaster condition can be funded up to $200,000 by a home disaster loan from the Small Business Administration with an additional 20% for hazard mitigation. Other Needs Assistance (ONA) provides assistance for temporary housing, essential household items, utilities, residential infrastructure and debris removal. Individual Assistance Programs are also available for businesses and not-for profits under the Small Business Administration (SBA), which provides low-interest loans. There is also a federal Public Assistance Grant Program Available to state, local and tribal publicly owned facilities and private not- for-profit critical facilities and non-critical community service facilities. Under this program applicants are responsible for obtaining all required Environmental and Historic Preservation (EHP) permits from the appropriate agencies before proceeding with Emergency Work
Please look at the ACHP's information on Federal Financial Assistance for Historic Preservation Projects—Disaster Response.
Tax credits may also be used for dealing with preservation efforts post-disaster. The 10% tax credit can be applied for by building owner for qualified expenses relating to the rehabilitation of non-historic buildings placed in service before 1936 that will be rehabilitated for non-residential uses. A 20% tax credit is available for qualified expenses related to the Certified Rehabilitation of an income producing Certified Historic building. The advantage here is that the funds don't have to be used only towards disaster recovery efforts like the FEMA funds above. Also, the program is overseen by the Division of Historical Resources (DHR) and the National Park Service (NPS). There are, however, multiple applications and levels of review and approval required, there are restrictive covenants employed, reimbursements cannot be made for completed work, and the owner must maintain ownership of the property for 5 years.
State historic preservation grants are also available to provide limited funding up front for emergency protective measures, for non-disaster related work, including additions, new construction, and rehabilitation for adaptive re-use. These often come in the form of small matching grants and special category grants.
Global Examples of Resilience
Addressing resilience in the context of the preservation of historic resources is something that is being addressed globally. There is no one-size fits all response to dealing with disasters, but you will find that the models available to consider from those cities and regions already addressing these issues are incredibly helpful in shaping your thinking and in raising questions about what needs to be done to brace for the worst. To that end, please read the UNESCO report on Heritage and Resilience: Issues and Opportunities for Reducing Disaster Risks.
You will also find an extremely helpful, comprehensive list of resources on the NATHPO website here.
In terms of protecting historic resources through preservation plans and even though design guidelines, think of potential goals, strategy, priorities, and criteria that would be appropriate for inclusion.