Conducting a drought-specific THIRA (Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment): A powerful tool for integrating all-hazard mitigation and drought planning efforts to increase drought mitigation quality

Elliot D. Wickham, Deborah Bathke, Tarik Abdel-Monem, Tonya Bernadt, Denise Bulling, Lisa Pytlik-Zillig, Crystal Stiles, Nicole Wall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In the United States, drought is the second costliest natural disaster, which leads to the need for increased drought mitigation efforts over time. However, drought planning has lagged behind other hazard mitigation efforts, which is likely due to the lack of a national drought planning policy. Although the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requires all jurisdictions have a hazard mitigation plan (HMP) to receive pre-disaster mitigation funds, drought has only recently been a requirement in HMPs. In 2012, Nebraska witnessed its worse drought in recent history, which exposed the gaps in drought planning effectiveness at all jurisdictional levels. To address potential drought planning gaps, we developed, conducted, and evaluated a Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA), a FEMA risk assessment process, which solely focused on drought. This drought-specific THIRA consisted of a one-day workshop in which stakeholders and agency experts from the Platte River Basin in Nebraska worked collaboratively to determine the necessary resources for successfully managing a worst-case drought scenario in the region. We analyzed the findings of this workshop and compared them against the current drought planning activities in the Platte River Basin and found that the current drought planning activities would not be effective against a worst-case drought, in terms of reducing drought vulnerability and increasing preparedness and response efforts. Our use of a drought-specific THIRA and drought plan evaluation provides both a quality process to increase drought mitigation efforts and a process to strengthen the integration between stand-alone drought plans and hazard mitigation plans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101227
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
StatePublished - Oct 2019



  • Drought
  • Hazard mitigation plan (HMP)
  • Mitigation
  • Planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Safety Research
  • Geology

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