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County to update Hazard Mitigation Plan, seeks public input

 

  Every five years, Henry County, along with every other state and local government entity, is required under the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, to submit for FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) approval a current Hazard Mitigation Plan. Henry County’s plan, last updated in 2008, is up for renewal this year, which is why the Henry County Emergency Management Agency has contracted with the Atlanta-based engineering and consulting firm, Atkins, for emergency management consultant services.

  A Hazard Mitigation Plan outlines the types of natural and technological (man-made) hazards for which a community is most at risk, as well as a community’s hazard history. The Plan then assesses how the community can best mitigate the effects of these hazards and protect citizens through prevention, resource protection, structural projects, emergency services and public outreach programs.

  According to Henry County’s 2008 Hazard Mitigation Plan, there are seven natural and two technological hazards for which Henry County is particularly vulnerable. The natural threats are severe thunderstorms, winter storms, tornadoes, drought, earthquakes, flooding and wildfires. Technological threats include hazardous materials releases and dam failures.

  “Our biggest natural threats are always going to be weather-related,” explained Don Ash, Henry County Emergency Management Agency Director. “While the greatest Technological Threat is always going to be a hazardous materials spill due to the number of industries we have in our community which deal with hazardous chemicals, and the number of interstates, highways and rails criss-crossing our community, carrying thousands of tons of hazardous materials every day.”

  Other than having in place a pre-determined response for handling these types of emergencies, maintaining a current Hazard Mitigation Plan has one very important benefit: it ensures funding eligibility.

  “If the County maintains its Hazard Mitigation Plan, it will maintain eligibility for disaster grant funding and bring money back to the community,” explained Margaret M. Walton, Project Manager, Atkins Emergency Management. “This will ensure that the County maintains disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.”

  To develop the Plan, the Henry County Emergency Management Agency has assembled a committee comprised of stakeholders in public safety, public works, storm water management, public health, planning and communications/public relations, among others.

  As part of the process, Atkins is seeking public input to assess Henry County’s hazards. Citizen participation is extremely critical, as it will help the County to better assess the hazards for which we are at risk, and more effectively mitigate those hazards. Citizens who live in Henry County are asked to go online to www.henrycounty-ga.org/EMA and complete the short Hazard Mitigation Public Participation Survey found on the right hand side. Completed surveys should be sent no later than January 31, 2013 via email to margaret.walton@atkinsglobal.com or by U.S. mail to Margaret Walton, Atkins, P.O. Box 31100, Savannah, GA 31410.

 

 

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