“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It is hard to believe that an adage from over 200 years ago could still be so relevant today. Although Mr. Franklin was really thinking about avoiding the common cold, prevention and mitigation are even more relevant because our families, our residents, and all of us as citizens of Portola have so much invested in our community.

Federal regulations now require that as a community we must develop a Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (LHMP). Simply put, we work to evaluate what potential natural disasters could impact our community, and then we work together to decide what we can do to reduce their impact when they occur. Not all potential hazards or disasters can be avoided; however, we can all take steps to: lessen their impact on us, help us help our neighbors, and help protect those features and places that are vital to our community. The LHMP process also helps unite us as a community in deciding what assets are most important to us and how we can move forward in protecting those vital assets. The completion and approval of our LHMP by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) also puts our community in position to receive Federal assistance in the event a disaster strikes.

FEMA lists 18 hazards for consideration in the formulation of an LHMP. Some hazards are obviously not a threat to our community, such as coastal erosion and coastal storm. Some hazards, through our local environment such as climate and geology, present such a low risk or potentially low impact that they can be eliminated from further consideration (such as avalanche, land subsidence). Some hazards, although not frequently experienced in our community, bear consideration although we can’t do much about them other than stock up on supplies or stay indoors. Other hazards, present such risks to our community that we need to do what we can to plan for their occurrence and work diligently to protect ourselves and our personal and community properties from their impact. The remaining hazards, dam failure and manmade disasters, must be considered but must also be approached with the help of other agencies such as the California Division of Water Resources, Division of Safety of Dams, and the California and Federal hazard emergency management branches, Cal EMA and FEMA.


Expansive Soils

Coastal Erosion

Extreme Heat


Coastal Storm



Dam Failure




Land Subsidence

Winter Storms & Extreme Cold


Manmade Disasters

Landslides & Debris Flows

Now that I know what the hazards are, what can I do?