State and federal guidance and regulations pertaining to mitigation planning require the development of a mitigation goal statement that is consistent with other goals, mission statements and vision statements. The Mitigation Planning Committee reviewed FEMA’s national mitigation goals, Pearland’s Vision Statement, the City Council’s goals, several examples of goal statements from other states and communities, and the State of Texas Mitigation Goal. The committee also considered information about natural hazards that may occur in the City and their potential consequences and losses. The final mitigation goal statement is as follows:
The goal of this plan is to support the City of Pearland’s efforts to protect the community’s health, safety, and welfare by identifying, and increasing public awareness of, natural and man-made hazards, and mitigating risks due to those hazards without creating new problems.
The Mitigation Planning Committee discussed the value of making the goal statement broad enough to allow for a more comprehensive interpretation of its phrasing, for example:
“Protect health, safety, and welfare” is broad enough to include the concept of applying development controls (permits) in floodplains, to include building according to regulations that reduce the potential for damage. The phrase is also broad enough to include undertaking projects intended to deal with specific properties, such as administering grants for acquisition, protecting park buildings, or working with others if a structural flood control project is deemed appropriate.
“Public Awareness” can include helping citizens to understand hazards, to know how to respond when asked to evacuate, to learn how to protect themselves and their property, to understand the value of flood insurance, and to obtain and comply with permit requirements.
3.4 State of Texas Mitigation Goals
The Texas Division of Emergency Management (DEM) is designated by the Governor as the state’s coordinating agency for disaster preparedness, emergency response, and disaster recovery assistance. DEM also is tasked to coordinate the state’s natural disaster mitigation initiatives and administer grant funding provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A key element in that task is the preparation of the State of Texas Hazard Mitigation Plan (Rev 2, 2000). The State’s plan includes a series of mitigation goals, as follows:
Texas State Mitigation Goals
Reduce or eliminate hazardous conditions that cause loss of life;
Reduce or eliminate hazardous conditions which inflict injuries;
Reduce or eliminate hazardous conditions which degrade important natural resources.
Texas Hazard Mitigation Plan (2000)
3.5 FEMA’s Mitigation Goal
FEMA’s mitigation strategy is set forth in a document originally prepared in the late 1990s. This strategy is the basis on which FEMA implements mitigation programs authorized and funded by the U.S. Congress. The national mitigation goal statement is as follows:
To engender fundamental changes in perception so that the public demands safer environments in which to live and work; and
To reduce, by at least half, the loss of life, injuries, economic costs, and destruction of natural and cultural resources that result from natural disasters.
A Little History about a Growing City
The City of Pearland began as a small railroad switching station in the years after the Civil War. Platted in 1894, the town drew a number of businesses and families from all over the world, spurred by newspaper ads touting “perfect climate . . . is fertile and easily cultivated.”
Then, the Great Hurricane of 1900 miraculously spared the lives of the town’s residents, but threw them into total poverty by destroying businesses, homes, and farms. Many families left, taking the railroad’s offer of a free trip out of town. The handful that remained dug in and turned the town around after years of struggle.
Today, their descendents carry on this legacy, overcoming adversity and teaching newcomers that building towards a future is done by planning in the present based on lessons learned in the past.
As part of its efforts to support and encourage hazard mitigation initiatives, the Texas Division of Emergency Management prepared an assessment of hazards that have caused or have the potential to cause disaster situations in communities throughout the State of Texas. Results of the study are found in the State of Texas Hazard Assessment (2000). Other public sources of information provide some information about natural hazards and past events. Of the 67 Presidential Disaster Declarations that Texas received between 1961 and 2002, 37 were for floods, 14 for tornadoes, 11 for hurricane/tropical storms, one for winter storm, and four were designated “other.”
The following subsections provide an overview of past hazard events and associated losses. Natural hazards other than flood hazards that are deemed pertinent to Pearland are described, along with summary statements about exposure to risks associated with those hazards. Because flooding poses the most significant risk in Pearland, Part 5 outlines flood hazards, past flood events, and summaries of the people and property that are at-risk.