Hazard Mitigation Plan up for update


Every five years multi-jurisdictional entities update a hazard mitigation plan, it’s purpose to evaluate and eliminate or reduce risks to residents and property in the occurrence of a disaster.

South Platte Natural Resource District’s (NRD), Water Resources Specialist, Ryan Reisdorff, said the area plan was last updated in 2012 and is updated every five years.

Entities use the Local Mitigation Plan Review Guide to aid in the assessment of local mitigation plans, ensuring the plans meet the requirements of federal regulations.

“Basically anyone who has a property taxing authority is invited to participate in the plan,” Reisdorff said, “This includes cities, villages, counties, school districts, Region 21 Emergency Management, irrigation districts, airport authorities, fire departments, and the natural resources district. We are hoping to get others involved in the process as well, but participation is voluntary on their part.”

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the official source for defining the requirements of original and updated local mitigation plans. The guide used to evaluate plans represent FEMA’s interpretation of statutory or regulatory requirements.

According to FEMA, the guide does not impose legally enforceable rights and obligations, but sets forth standard operating procedures or agency practices.

State Hazard Mitigation Officer Mary Baker said, the process begins with the assessment of each risk.

“For instance, a risk for a tornado can be assessed by checking the warning systems in the area, there are areas that do not have warning systems, these areas can apply for funding to receive them by first assessing the need,” Baker said.

“As part of the hazard mitigation plan we asses different areas and fill out worksheets, evaluating what may be a risk in our area,” Reisdorrf said.

Participating jurisdictions fill out work sheets narrowing the hazards down to five points that most effect their area, once those five points are established the NRD compiles the information and sends it into the state.

Reisdorff said the NRD will have the information completed after next week’s board meeting.

According to Baker there are approximately twenty-five local jurisdictions in the state, all of who are on different five year schedules.

“The NRD has done an awesome job at helping us champion the mitigation plan,” Baker said.

Once a local mitigation plan is submitted by the state, FEMA is responsible for the overall coordination of the plan and it’s review, revisions, tracking and approval.

Establishing risks caused by natural and man made disasters is just that, an assessment said Baker, if there is a risk factor that needs to be addressed in an area it is up to the local entities on how they want to address that risk. However, by updating and establishing a plan those local entities become more aware of risks and therefore can address them.

Baker said flooding is the number one disaster in the state of Nebraska.

FEMA and other organizations have grants when funds are available to aid and ensure that people are trying to reduce these risks, said Baker, the only way to access these grants is to first have an approved mitigation plan.

“It’s not if, it’s when, disasters will hit and this helps us to ensure that people are being proactive in assuring the safety and security of these communities,” Baker said.


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