The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) defines hazard mitigation as "Any sustained action taken to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to human life and property from hazards." It has been demonstrated that hazard mitigation is most effective when based on an inclusive, comprehensive, long-term plan that is developed before a disaster occurs.
The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA 2000), for the first time, required state and local governments to prepare and adopt hazard mitigation plans approved by FEMA as a condition of eligibility for receiving hazard mitigation grants under several programs. The State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) relies on a partnership with regional planning commissions throughout the state to help local jurisdictions develop and adopt countywide, multi-jurisdictional, multi-hazard mitigation plans.
In 2004 and 2005, SMCOG assisted many counties in the region with developing their first mitigation plans. DMA 2000 also requires that these plans be updated every five years in order for state and local jurisdictions to maintain eligibility for Hazard Mitigation Assistance.