What is Hazus?
Hazus is the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) methodology for estimating potential losses from hazards. Hazus was developed by FEMA in cooperation with the National Institute of Building Sciences, and uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to estimate physical, economic, and social impacts from certain types of disasters. This allows users to graphically illustrate hazard and risk information. State and local officials can use Hazus to define risk, focus mitigation, and inform policy.
Hazus provides three levels of analysis which can be employed depending on user expertise and available datasets:
- Level 1: This “out-of-the-box” option provides basic loss estimates using national databases and default parameters.
- Level 2: Provides more accurate loss estimates and requires that some national inventory data be replaced with local information.
- Level 3: Provides state-of-the-art loss estimates and requires that local hazard and inventory information be used and that adjustments be made to the analysis parameters. A Level 3 effort will include participation by scientists, engineers, planners, and GIS professionals.
Using Hazus for Mitigation Planning
Hazus is utilized primarily during the risk assessment step in the hazard mitigation planning process. Information collected during the risk assessment process, such as loss estimates, can and should be used to inform and prompt mitigation action. Once communities are able to locate their most vulnerable areas and assets, they can better direct and focus mitigation resources in order to reduce or eliminate risk to life and property.
In Pennsylvania, we use the following Hazus models to estimate losses and assess risk and vulnerability:
- Hazus Flood Model: This model assesses riverine and coastal flooding. It estimates potential damage and loss to buildings, critical facilities, bridges, vehicles, and agricultural crops. The Flood Model also addresses debris generation and casualties while providing discharge frequencies, including analysis of discharges from specific streams and the exposure to buildings and population from the flood.
- Hazus Earthquake Model: This model assesses earthquake damage including loss of buildings, critical facilities, and transportation and utility lines. It can also be used to estimate debris quantities, casualties, utility outages, and shelter requirements.
- Hazus Hurricane Wind Model: The Hurricane Wind Model allows users to assess potential damage and loss to buildings and essential facilities due to wind. It also provides estimates for post-storm shelter needs and debris quantities.
Hazus and the State Hazard Mitigation Plan
Pennsylvania’s 2013 State Standard All-Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) employed a Level 2 Hazus analysis for floods, earthquake, and hurricane winds. Examples of the types of estimates established as part of the Level 2 analysis for Pennsylvania include structural and content asset values, economic losses, shelter requirements, injuries, and casualties. The map below displays the potential loss estimates from the 1-percent-annual-chance flood by county from the 2013 HMP Update Hazus analysis.
The Hazus analysis for the 2018 State HMP Update has not been completed yet, but the results of this analysis, including relevant maps, data, and potential loss estimates, will be posted to this webpage when complete. More detailed information on risk and vulnerability in Pennsylvania can be found in the Risk Assessment section of the 2013 Pennsylvania HMP.
FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute in Emmitsburg, Maryland, offers several Hazus training opportunities both in a classroom setting and online as well as certificate programs for Hazus Trained Professionals and Hazus Practitioners. If you are interested in becoming more proficient with Hazus software visit the Hazus Training site for additional information.