Hazus is a nationally applicable standardized methodology developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). A downloadable software package called Hazus-MH (for Multi-Hazard) gives users access to FEMA's models for estimating potential losses from earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes. The software package uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to estimate physical, economic, and social impacts of disasters. It graphically illustrates the limits of identified high-risk locations due to earthquake, hurricane, and floods. Users can then visualize the spatial relationships between populations and other, more permanently fixed geographic assets or resources for the specific hazard being modeled, a crucial function in the pre-disaster planning process.
Hazus-MH is used for mitigation and recovery as well as preparedness and response. Government planners, GIS specialists, and emergency managers use Hazus to determine losses and the most beneficial mitigation approaches to take to minimize them. Hazus can be used in the assessment step in the mitigation planning process, which is the foundation for a community's long-term strategy to reduce disaster losses and break the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage. Being ready will aid in recovery after a natural disaster.
Increasingly, Hazus-MH is being used by states and communities in support of risk assessments that perform economic loss scenarios for certain natural hazards and rapid needs assessments during hurricane response. Other communities are using the software package to increase hazard awareness. Emergency managers also use Hazua-MH's map templates to support rapid impact assessment and disaster response.