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If your community is not covered by a local hazard mitigation plan, they have two options:
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The federal Disaster Mitigation Act (DMA) of 2000 (Public Law 106-390), commonly known as the 2000 Stafford Act amendments, was approved by Congress on October 10, 2000. This act required state and local governments to develop hazard mitigation plans as a condition for federal grant assistance. Among other things, this legislation reinforces the importance of pre-disaster infrastructure mitigation planning to reduce disaster losses nationwide. DMA 2000 is aimed primarily at the control and streamlining of the administration of federal disaster relief and programs to promote mitigation activities. Prior to 2000, federal legislation provided funding for disaster relief, recovery, and some hazard mitigation planning. The DMA improves upon the planning process by emphasizing the importance of communities planning for disasters before they occur.
A Local Hazard mitigation Plan is prepared by local governments in response to the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-390). Local governments as defined by the Disaster Mitigation Act include special purpose districts such as fire, hospital, water, sewer and school districts. These plans act as a keyway to federal funding afforded under the Robert T. Stafford Act. These plans meet statutory requirements that include:
-- Organizing resources -- Assessing Risk -- Engaging the public -- Identifying Goals and Objectives -- Identifying actions -- Developing plan maintenance and implementation strategies
The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 has defined a “local government” as:
Any county, municipality, city, town, public authority, school district, special district, intrastate district, council of governments (regardless of whether the council of governments is incorporated as a nonprofit corporation under State law), regional or interstate government entity, or agency or instrumentality of a local government; any Indian tribe or authorized tribal organization, or Alaska Native village or organization; and any rural community, unincorporated town or village, or other public entity.
Any local government wishing to pursue funding afforded under FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Programs must have an approved hazard mitigation plan in order to be eligible to apply for these funds.
Hazard mitigation is defined as any sustained action taken to permanently eliminate or reduce long-term risks to human life and property from natural hazards. Sustained action means an action that is long term in its impact. This is an essential component of emergency management, along with preparedness, protection, response and recovery. Disasters can have significant impacts on communities. They can destroy or damage life, property infrastructure, local economies, and the environment.
At a minimum, the plan must address the natural hazards of concern that could impact the County planning area. It may also include a select number of technological or human caused hazards. It should also be noted that there are many secondary hazards that are directly attributable to these primary hazards that will also be addressed by the plan as part of the analysis of the primary hazard of concern.
Yes. While climate change will not be viewed as a stand alone hazard in this plan, there will be detailed discussions of the potential impact of climate change on those applicable hazards of concern.
Yes. The State of Washington is also required to respond to the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 by developing a plan. In fact, if the state does not have a plan, no local governments within the state are eligible for any of the grant programs normally available as a result of developing a HMP. By law, the local plans are to be consistent with the recommendations of the state plan. The State of Washington actually has an Enhanced Plan, which means that we receive increased funding amounts after a disaster.
As a citizen within a participating jurisdiction, you will be able to reap the benefits of the risk reduction actions identified by your local government. Sometimes these can be a direct impact to your property in the form of reduced insurance premiums and reduced risk if you live in a high hazard area. Most of the time, these benefits are secondary. By reducing risk exposure, your local government does not have to expend as many resources on preparedness, response or recovery from the impacts of natural hazards.
By participating in this planning effort and adopting the updated plan, your community will be eligible to pursue funding under any of the five (5) FEMA hazard mitigation grant programs. These programs provide millions of dollars worth of grant funding annually for risk reduction measures identified in these plans. It should be noted that not all eligible local governments within the Island County planning area may wish to participate in this planning effort. You are encouraged to contact your community officials to determine your community’s eligibility under these programs. Additionally, if your community participates in FEMA’s Community Rating System (CRS) program, this plan may have direct impact on reducing the cost of flood insurance within your community.
The National Flood Insurance Program's (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS) is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements. As a result, flood insurance premium rates are discounted to reflect the reduced flood risk resulting from the community actions meeting the three goals of the CRS: 1. Reduce flood losses; 2. Facilitate accurate insurance rating, and 3. Promote the awareness of flood insurance. For CRS participating communities, flood insurance premium rates are discounted in increments of 5%; i.e., a Class 1 community would receive a 45% premium discount, while a Class 9 community would receive a 5% discount (a Class 10 is not participating in the CRS and receives no discount). The CRS classes for local communities are based on 18 creditable activities, organized under four categories: 1. Public Information; 2. Mapping and Regulations; 3. Flood Damage Reduction, and
4. Flood Preparedness.
The law specifies that this be an “open public process” where the public is given the opportunity to provide comment on all phases of the plan’s development. The reason that this is important is that it is the average citizen that is most severely impacted by the impacts of natural hazards. When these events occur, homes are damaged, functionality of critical facilities is interrupted, services are interrupted, and the economy is impacted; all having a direct impact on the citizen. The principal goal of this plan is to reduce risk. The large majority of the risk exposure within the County is privately held property. It is not possible to identify and implement risk reduction strategies without the support of the property owners targeted by these strategies. Therefore, there must be public support for these initiatives in order for there to be any successful implementation of the recommendations of this plan.
Participate! When you see a notice for a public meeting, make an attempt to attend at least one meeting. When you see an article in the paper about this plan, read it. If you get mailed a questionnaire, please complete it. Review the website periodically to obtain an update on the process. And most importantly, spread the word. Tell your friends, family, and neighbors about this process. This plan is very important to the health and welfare of the citizens of Island County. If you don’t understand something, or want to provide input, contact Island County Emergency Management for more information.
Seventy five percent of the cost associated with the preparation of this plan is being provided by a FEMA Hazard Mitigation Planning grant. The remaining 25% of the cost is an “in-kind” contribution from the planning team and the planning partners this plan will cover. “In-kind” contribution means non-monetary contributions such as: staff time, facilities, printing cost, etc.
By law, this planning effort must map the extent and location of all hazards of concern utilizing the best available data and science. This planning effort has identified various natural hazards that have the potential to impact the planning area. These maps are currently being produced and/or updated as part of this planning process. As these maps become available, they will be presented to the public via various mediums, including the County’s website.
As public meeting dates are established they will be advertised to the public by posting to the Hazard Mitigation Plan website (under the Hazard Mitigation Tab). The County may also elect to disseminate a press release to all media outlets discussing public meeting purposes and dates. Additionally, each planning partner will be asked to get the word out on meetings utilizing whatever means they have available within their jurisdiction.
It is anticipated that this plan update process will take 12 to 18 months to complete, at which time it will be submitted to Washington State Emergency Management Division and FEMA for their review and approval. This schedule is contingent upon many factors that can impact schedule and timeline. The timeline for submittal will be continuously updated throughout the process as planning milestones are completed. Once the first draft is completed, it will be available for public review and comment prior to the plan being finalized and submitted to FEMA.
Once the draft plan is assembled and is considered to be ready for public review and comment, it will be posted to the Hazard Mitigation Plan website. Once it reaches this point, the County may issue a press release advising citizens that the plan is ready for review and comment.
Eric Brooks, Deputy Emergency Management Director Island County Department of Emergency Management
Beverly O’Dea, Plan Consultant Bridgeview Consulting, LLC/Tetra Tech, Inc.