Date of Award

2005

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Community Planning

First Advisor

William R. Gordon

Abstract

The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 provided strengthened federal incentives for local hazard mitigation planning. In Rhode Island, this process is currently being carried out by each municipality with guidance from the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA). This analysis of the local hazard mitigation planning process in Rhode Island is based on the author's participation in hazard mitigation planning in North Kingstown, and a review of the scholarly literature.

Six points are identified on which Rhode Island's process could be improved: l) more use of specialized expertise, 2) continuous staffing of planning and implementation, 3) greater coordination between jurisdictions, 4) use of measurable evaluation criteria, 5) more public education, and 6) use of computerized analysis techniques. In order to achieve these improvements, it is recommended that RIEMA consider organizing multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation planning, as is done in many other states. This would make it possible for plans to be authored and implemented by permanently employed professional hazard mitigation specialists. The result of this would be plans of higher quality with more effective implementation. With this approach, risks and vulnerabilities from natural hazards could be more effectively reduced for residents and businesses in Rhode Island.

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