Darrin Punchard is an urban planner and floodplain manager who has spent his entire career working with local communities to become more resilient to disaster. Currently serving as a senior project manager with AECOM, he has more than 15 years of applied experience in hazard mitigation planning with specialized expertise in GIS-based risk assessment, benefit-cost analysis, and the development of actionable mitigation strategies to include structural and non-structural measures for risk reduction.
Since 2001 he has served as a consultant to federal, state, regional, tribal and local government agencies across the United States to assess and reduce their jurisdiction’s vulnerability to natural and technological hazards. He prepared some of the nation’s first FEMA-approved local hazard mitigation plans and has assisted more than 500 communities gain compliance with the federal Stafford Act as amended by the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA 2000). He has also helped communities prepare local floodplain management plans that have achieved among the highest credit scores in the nation under FEMA’s Community Rating System (CRS). Darrin has also been involved in the long-term recovery and redevelopment process for some of the nation’s worst natural disasters including floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires.
Darrin’s public service career includes serving as the State Hazard Mitigation Officer for North Carolina. In this role he coordinated FEMA’s Project Impact program and launched the State’s award-winning Hazard Mitigation Planning Initiative, a statewide effort to promote the voluntary development of local hazard mitigation plans prior to DMA 2000. His career began in Florida where he worked as a local hazard mitigation planner for the Alachua County Office of Emergency Management, and later as a state mitigation planner for the Florida Division of Emergency Management where he helped launch the Local Mitigation Strategy initiative, the first statewide program requiring the preparation of community-based hazard mitigation plans.
Darrin remains an active figure in championing innovative methods and practices for disaster loss reduction, often serving as an invited participant and featured speaker for the natural hazard profession’s leading national conferences and workshops. He has authored and contributed to a number of publications including “Hazard Mitigation: Integrating Best Practices into Planning” as published by the American Planning Association (APA). He has also served as guest lecturer for graduate students at Yale University and UNC-Chapel Hill on the topics of disaster mitigation, climate change and community sustainability.
Darrin currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association (NHMA) and serves as co-chair for NHMA’s Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee. He also serves on the Executive Committee for APA’s Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Recovery Planning Interest Group.
He earned a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Florida, and a Bachelor’s degree in Coastal Zone Management from the University of Rhode Island.