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Preservation and Disaster Planning Projects

Historic Resource Surveys

The PHMC's assessment of Hurricane Sandy damage in many of the affected counties made clear that delivering appropriate services to historic properties in the aftermath of a disaster is nearly impossible due to a lack of basic information about historic properties.

To gain an understanding of important historic properties in the Hurricane Sandy-impacted counties (PDF), Historic Resource Surveys of important local properties will be conducted in the affected counties. Surveys will be organized and prioritized in partnership with PEMA and community leaders. Survey methodology will follow National Park Service and PHMC guidelines as appropriate. Surveys will be undertaken by qualified professionals and the program will be coordinated by PHMC survey and registration staff.

Timeframe: It is anticipated that Historic Resource Surveys will begin in early 2015. Please check back for updated information about survey priorities.

Hazard Mitigation Planning

PHMC staff will be to work with selected counties to incorporate historic resources into the PEMA/FEMA mandated Hazard Mitigation Plans for the county. These plans are required by the emergency agencies in order to qualify counties and municipalities for federal hazard mitigation grants, typically made available following a major disaster declaration.

Timeframe: PHMC staff will begin reaching out to counties in summer 2014. Please check back for updated information about hazard mitigation planning activities.

Best Practices / Demonstration Projects

In addition to assisting counties with strategic planning, the PHMC has identified a need to develop more detailed guidance related to specific disaster response and mitigation activities. PHMC will help the impacted counties with implementing Hazard Mitigation Plans and undertaking studies to explore the complex issues surrounding several common mitigation strategies and their impacts on historic resources. The goal of these projects will not only be to articulate the problems, but identify solutions that can be applied to various building types and locations.

Goals would be to develop best practices for addressing future disasters to ensure outcomes are the least intrusive for historic properties, employ a variety of techniques for different buildings, and consider alternatives for reducing damages from disasters.

Timeframe: These projects will be developed in cooperation with the counties during the hazard mitigation planning phase. Please check back for updated information about emerging demonstration projects.

Educational Programs Related to Disaster Planning and Response

PHMC will provide educational programs and training seminars on topics related to disaster planning. These programs will help educate community leaders and emergency management professionals about cultural resource issues, resulting in more informed and robust participation in the planning process. Topics may range from basic information about historic preservation (National Register, survey, Section 106, etc.) to more technical issues related to engineering and design. Training opportunities will also be provided for the cultural resource community to learn how to address disaster management practices. This cross-training is essential if the different constituencies are to be expected to understand and collaborate with each other.

PHMC will work with a variety of partners to develop and implement these programs. The National Alliance of Preservation Commissions Biannual Forum will be in Philadelphia in July 2014 and will provide a track of programs related to disaster planning.