Elmore county ema

The county is in the process of updating its Hazard Mitigation Plan, which has to be completed every five years per FEMA standards. 

The Elmore County Emergency Management Agency is asking residents to contribute the county’s hazard mitigation plan that is currently being updated. 

Every five years county EMA offices throughout the United States are required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to update their hazard mitigation plans, according to county EMA director Keith Barnett. Doing this allows counties to receive federal grants for schools, county governments, fire departments, law enforcement and more.

The purpose of a mitigation plan is to outline ways the county can reduce the severity of damage and loss of life caused by natural hazards like sink holes, floods, wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes and wind storms. For example, one way to mitigate the impact of a tornado is to build a storm shelter for residents. 

“The plan considers the chances of each type of occurrence, and if we are at a high risk, then what are some things that we can do to mitigate damage,” Barnett said. “So, for flooding, we could look at the quality of the drainage system in a certain area.”

Barnett said documenting all of the county’s risks, even if it’s a slight risk, makes it possible to receive federal funding if an unlikely occurrence does take place. 

During the course of this planning project, Barnett said county and local leaders are working together to identify risks, assess capabilities and formulate a strategy to reduce the effects of hazards.

“We also need our citizens to weigh in and tell us what they’re seeing and what they know,” he said. “We know that funds for more storm shelters are a high priority for our residents, and we’re trying to see if there are any other areas of need that we may have missed.” 

Barnett said residents should review the plan first and then let the county know if any problems or risk factors were overlooked. Comments should be sent to Taylor Esco at tesco@lrcog.com. 

The county has enlisted the help of the regional planning and development organization, Lee-Russell Council of Governments, to compose the document. Once complete, the county’s plan will be consolidated with the mitigation plans of 12 other counties in its district. Barnett said having a regional plan helps FEMA to see what the greatest needs are in the area. 

The county’s current mitigation plan is set to expire in December.

“The goal is to get the updated version submitted in the next few weeks because it takes a few months to go through the review process and get approved,” Barnett said.

A draft of the plan is available at Elmorecoema.com/wp-content/uploads/PublicDraft_2020.pdf