Library Flood
The aftermath of the Zimmerman Library flood as a result of a torrential downpour that hit the University-area in August 2014.

The University of New Mexico Mitigation Planning Committee is currently updating the campus Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan (PDM), and unlike emergency operations plans or disaster preparedness, this plan seeks to develop ways to lessen the impact of natural disasters on the university's resources through strategic, long range planning by addressing potential damages and listing actions to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to human life and property.

"Disasters can’t be prevented, but a good plan can help the university be more resistant and resilient,” said Laura Banks, co-chair of the committee. "It’s a smart investment in the safety of a university and the neighboring communities."

Mitigation planning for disasters involves identifying potential hazards and then setting goals for breaking the cycle of disaster, damage reconstruction and repeated damage. Examples of natural disasters in New Mexico may be wind damage, hail and or tornados. By developing an effective long-term mitigation plan, the campus communities will be able to get back to business quickly and more effectively.

The Hazard Mitigation Program is authorized under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1988, which was reauthorized in 2010. The program, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), provides financial and technical assistance to state and local governments in the case of natural disasters. UNM created the first university approved plan in New Mexico.

Now it is time for an update. The current plan expires at the end of this year. The new one must address recent changes on the campus such as new buildings and activities in order to maintain the university’s eligibility to receive disaster funds.

“In order to develop a plan, we need to identify and assess the hazards, vulnerabilities and risks to the campus,” Banks said. “That work requires participation of a wide range of stakeholders and the public in the planning process.”

A website has been established to provide additional information regarding mitigation planning in general and the process that is on-going at UNM, as well as a copy of the current plan.

The campus community and surrounding neighborhoods are invited to participate by reviewing the posted material, attending meetings of the planning committee, sending questions or comments via email or U.S. Mail, or meeting with a member of the planning committee individually.

The University is working in partnership with the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and FEMA to insure that UNM's mitigation planning will be successful in minimize the impact of natural disasters on our campuses. The update of the plan will be completed by December of 2015.

For more information, contact Laura Banks at LBanks@salud.unm.edu or (505) 272-6279.