Washington State Enhanced Hazard Mitigation Plan

The Washington State Enhanced Hazard Mitigation (SEHMP) Plan profiles hazards, identifies risks and vulnerabilities and proposes strategies and actions to reduce risks to people, property, the economy, the environment, infrastructure and first responders. The Washington SEHMP is a multi-agency statewide document. It incorporates best practices, programs and knowledge from multiple state agencies, tracks progress in achieving mitigation goals through state and local programs and strategies. It also communicates that progress among agency partners and elected leadership.

Every five years, state agencies, led by the Washington Emergency Management Division (WA EMD), convene to update the State Enhanced Hazard Mitigation Plan (SEHMP). The SEHMP is a FEMA-required plan that helps make Washington state cities, counties, towns, special districts and certain non-profits eligible for grants or aid through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) and Public Assistance (PA) programs. As one of 12 “Enhanced” states, Washington also maintains a “comprehensive mitigation program” to support local jurisdictions in writing local hazard mitigation plans and in qualifying for grants through these programs. The “Enhanced” designation provides additional funding for hazard mitigation in the event of a Presidential Disaster Declaration. The SEHMP is just the first step in securing mitigation funding. Washington counties, tribes and incorporated cities and towns must also be part of a local hazard mitigation plan to be eligible to apply for Hazard Mitigation Assistance grants.

The first major component of a hazard mitigation plan update is the risk assessment. Washington is prone to dozens of natural and human-caused hazards and the SEHMP analyzes the risk and vulnerability for the most frequent hazards, including earthquake, landslide, severe storm, wildfire, flood and hazardous materials. This data is used to help state agencies “get on the same page” about the risks the state faces and opportunities to reduce those risks through strategies and mitigation programs.

The second major component of the plan works to coordinate state-led hazard mitigation or risk reduction programs, which represent Washington’s commitment to hazard mitigation and then develop new mitigation strategies. Washington state agencies operate a myriad of risk reduction programs from multi-benefit flood hazard reduction programs such as Floodplains by Design (Department of Ecology), to school seismic safety (Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Department of Natural Resources), and earthquake and tsunami preparedness (Military Department, Emergency Management Division). These risk reduction strategies are the most important output of the planning process.

To recap, the State Enhanced Hazard Mitigation Plan provides the following benefits:

  1. Eligibility for Hazard Mitigation Assistance and Public Assistance mitigation dollars under the Stafford Act;
  2. A single, statewide risk assessment to profile hazard risk, vulnerability and potential impacts to state facilities, communities and residents; and
  3. Strategies and action items to reduce risk to natural hazards and coordinate state agency mitigation initiatives and programs.

For Local Jurisdictions: This plan contains best practices, guidance and information on how the state reviews and monitors local hazard mitigation plans and mitigation project applications. The hazard profile information could also be useful to local jurisdictions in their mitigation plan updates.

For Washington state residents: This plan highlights state-led mitigation activities and how the state supports local jurisdictions. The best way to support hazard mitigation in your communities is at the local level. All Washington counties, most tribes and many cities develop mitigation plans and your involvement is needed! Please contact your local emergency management agency for more information. There's a downloadable list of local contacts on this page.

For State Agencies: This plan lays out much of the coordination that is occurring between agencies involved in risk-reduction and summarizes state capabilities dedicated to resilience and mitigation. State agency involvement and partnership during the implementation of the mitigation strategies is critical for success!

Questions? Please email Washington State’s Hazard Mitigation Strategist Kevin Zerbe at kevin.zerbe@mil.wa.gov

This plan meets requirements for an Enhanced State Plan under Interim Final Rule 44 CFR parts 201.4 and 201.5, published in the Federal Register by FEMA on Feb. 28, 2002. The Washington State Enhanced Hazard Mitigation Plan was approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 10 office on Oct. 1, 2023.