Even in economically challenging times, disaster mitigation programs are a wise investment, according to a whitepaper from the Lexington, Ky.-based National Emergency Management Association (NEMA). "Recommendations for an Effective National Mitigation Effort" outlines several strategic themes and elements for a national mitigation plan, such as the need for partnerships, total hazard awareness and requirements driven by local and community needs.

One challenge, according to NEMA, is convincing communities why they should incur the short-term costs of preparing for disasters that have not yet occurred. "Mitigation is the least visible, but perhaps the most important concept that can be used to protect communities from disasters," said James Mullen, director of the Washington State Emergency Management Division and the NEMA Mitigation Committee chair. "Mitigation cannot completely eliminate the risk of disasters, but the process of identifying hazards should lead to effective, community-supported measures that can save lives, lower the overall cost of a disaster, and makes communities more resilient."

Several NEMA partner agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, contributed to "Recommendations for an Effective National Mitigation Effort." Download the whitepaper from NEMA's Web site.