Hazards Planning Research Center

Planning for a Disaster-Resistant Community

A One-Day Workshop for City and County Planners, Planning Officials, and Consultants

Be prepared to confront a natural disaster that could impact your community with little warning. One of the best defenses against natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes, is to prepare a hazard mitigation plan. This one-day workshop will help you prepare and protect your community from natural disasters.

Developed cooperatively between the American Planning Association and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), this course reviews the planning requirements outlined in the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA) and also focuses on the overall benefits of hazard mitigation planning to communities.


Planning for a Disaster-Resistant Community is team-taught by an emergency management professional and APA's training consultants, with one of each working together in any given workshop. The emergency management professional will be either a FEMA or state hazard mitigation staff person selected in part for their role in local mitigation planning as well as for their proximity to the workshop. Organizations hosting the workshop should select training consultants on the basis of their experience with specific hazard mitigation and/or disaster recovery plans.

Three exercise scenarios are available, adapted for different parts of the U.S. APA can discuss with you which exercise will best fit your needs.

In the fall of 2002, the Florida APA chapter (FAPA) and the Michigan Society of Planning (MSP) hosted pilot courses at their conferences to test this design. APA subsequently finalized the course design for approval by FEMA, and the course is available upon request. FEMA presented the workshop at the Denver conference on Saturday, March 29, 2003.

Each pilot workshop drew about 25 participants, who reacted with highly positive evaluations of the courses. APA tested two different regional hazard scenarios, one oriented to southeastern coastal states and one to the Midwest, at the two state conferences, in order to provide realistic premises for the exercises. Participants found the exercises a good hands-on opportunity to apply what they learned during the presentations. Participants also went home with a workbook and several useful handouts. The workbook contains a series of eight worksheets that allow them to assess their own community's hazards and mitigation plans.

Course Structure

View a detailed course outline (psd)


William D. Wagoner, AICP
Midwest/Northeast Exercise

Lincoln Walther, AICP
Southeast and Gulf Coast Exercise

Kenneth C. Topping, FAICP
Western Exercise


Consultant Trainer— Travel and lodging expenses plus a $900 stipend
FEMA Trainer — Underwritten by FEMA

Training Workshop Inquiries

Contact James C. Schwab, AICP, at 312-786-6364 or jschwab@planning.org.