What is a Risk Assessment?
Conducting a risk assessment can provide information on the location of hazards, the value of existing land and property in hazard locations, and an analysis of risk to life, property, and the environment, that may result from natural hazard events. Specifically, the three levels of a risk assessment are as follows:
1) Hazard Identification
This is the description of the geographic extent, potential intensity and the probability of occurrence of a given hazard. Maps are frequently used to display hazard identification data. The City of West Covina identified five major hazards that affect this geographic area. These hazards - earthquakes, earth movements, flooding, wildfires and windstorms - were identified through an extensive process that utilized input from the Hazard Mitigation Steering Committee, Community partners, and the public. The geographic extent of each of the identified hazards has been identified by the City of West Covina Engineering Department using the best available data, and is illustrated by the charts/maps listed in Table 3-1.
2) Profiling Hazard Events
This process describes the causes and characteristics of each hazard; how it has affected the City of West Covina in the past; and, what part of the City of West Covina's population, infrastructure, and environment has historically been vulnerable to each specific hazard. A profile of each hazard discussed in this plan is provided in each hazard section. For a full description of the history of hazard specific events, please see the appropriate hazard chapter.
3) Vulnerability Assessment/Inventorying Assets
This is a combination of hazard identification with an inventory of the existing (or planned) property development(s) and population(s) exposed to a hazard. Critical facilities are of particular concern because these entities provide essential products and services to the general public that are necessary to preserve the welfare and quality of life in the city and fulfill important public safety, emergency response, and/or disaster recovery functions. The critical facilities have been identified and are cataloged on a spreadsheet available through the City of West Covina Office of Emergency Services. Some of the critical facilities are mapped, and are illustrated in Map 2 in this section. A description of the type of critical facilities in the city is also provided in this section. In addition, this plan includes a community issues summary in each hazard section to identify the most vulnerable and problematic areas in the city, including critical facilities, and other public and private property.
4) Risk Analysis
Estimating potential losses involves assessing the damage, injuries, and financial costs likely to be sustained in a geographic area over a given period of time. This level of analysis involves using mathematical models. The two measurable components of risk analysis are magnitude of the harm that may result and the likelihood of the harm occurring. Describing vulnerability in terms of dollar losses provides the community and the state with a common framework in which to measure the effects of hazards on assets.
5) Assessing Vulnerability/ Analyzing Development Trends
This step provides a general description of land uses and development trends within the community so that mitigation options can be considered in land use planning and future land use decisions. This plan provides a comprehensive description of the character of the City of West Covina in the Community Profile. This description includes the Geography and Environment, Population and Demographics, Land Use and Development, Housing and Community Development, Employment and Industry, and Transportation and Commuting Patterns. Analyzing these components of West Covina can help in identifying potential problem areas, and can serve as a guide for incorporating the goals and ideas contained in this mitigation plan into other community development plans.
Table 3-1. List of Hazard Mitigation Plan Charts/maps
Note: The information on the maps in this plan was derived from City of West Covina's GIS. Care was taken in the creation of these maps, but is provided "as is". The City of West Covina cannot accept any responsibility for any errors, omissions or positional accuracy, and therefore, there are no warranties that accompany these products (the maps). Although information from land surveys may have been used in the creation of these products, in no way does this product represent or constitute a land survey. Users are cautioned to field verify information on this product before making any decisions.
Hazard assessments are subject to the availability of hazard-specific data. Gathering data for a hazard assessment requires a commitment of resources on the part of participating organizations and agencies. Each hazard-specific section of the plan includes a section on hazard identification using data and information from City, County, and State agency sources.
Regardless of the data available for hazard assessments, there are numerous strategies the City can take to reduce risk. These strategies are described in the action items detailed in each hazard section of this Plan. Mitigation strategies can further reduce disruption to critical services, reduce the risk to human life, and alleviate damage to personal and public property and infrastructure. Action items throughout the hazard sections provide recommendations to collect further data to map hazard locations and conduct hazard assessments.
Federal Requirements for Risk Assessment
Recent federal regulations for hazard mitigation plans outlined in 44 CFR Part 201 include a requirement for risk assessment. This risk assessment requirement is intended to provide information that will help communities to identify and prioritize mitigation activities that will reduce losses from the identified hazards. There are five hazards profiled in the mitigation plan, including earthquakes, earth movements, flooding, wildfires and windstorms. The Federal criteria for risk assessment and information on how the City of West Covina Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan meets those criteria is outlined in Table 3-2 below.
Table 3-2. Federal Criteria for Risk Assessment
Critical Facilities and Infrastructure
Facilities critical to government response and recovery activities, i.e. life safety and property and environmental protection include: 911 centers, emergency operations centers, police and fire stations, public works facilities, communications centers, sewer and water facilities, hospitals, bridges and roads, electric utilities, natural gas utilities and shelters. Facilities that if damaged, could cause serious secondary impacts may also be considered "critical." A hazardous material facility is one example of this type of critical facility.
Essential facilities are those facilities that are vital to the continued delivery of key government services or that may significantly impact the public's ability to recover from the emergency. These facilities may include buildings such as the jail, law enforcement centers, public services buildings, the courthouse, and juvenile services buildings and other public facilities such as schools. The maps found in this section illustrate some of the critical facilities, essential facilities, public infrastructure, and emergency transportation routes within the City of West Covina.
Natural hazard mitigation strategies can reduce the impacts concentrated at large employment and industrial centers, public infrastructure, and critical facilities. Natural hazard mitigation for industries and employers may include developing relationships with emergency management services and their employees before disaster strikes, and establishing mitigation strategies together. Collaboration among the public and private sector to create mitigation plans and actions can reduce the impacts of natural hazards.