NVDAILY.COM | Local News
Posted July 27, 2012 | 9 Comments
Agency seeks input on disaster plan
By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Destructive storms like last month's derecho spurred the affected jurisdictions to respond.
A plan in place since 2007 helps localities in the Northern Shenandoah Valley when a natural disaster such as the derecho wind storm, or man-made incidents, occur. Now the area's localities need to review and update the plan, according to the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission in Front Royal.
The federal government requires localities or a region have a plan in order to receive certain funding for disaster preparation and response efforts.
The agency and the region's Hazard Mitigation Planning Group are in the process of updating the federally mandated Hazard Mitigation Plan, which covers Winchester, the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren, as well as the 14 incorporated towns.
Part of the effort includes examining on an annual basis the strategies in place for addressing events such as floods, earthquakes, winter storms, then take that information to make sure the tactics mitigate or respond to those disasters and are in line with what localities want, according to Jill Keihn, natural resources program manager with the commission.
For example, the derecho storm that ripped through the valley on June 29, leaving in its wake downed trees and scattered limbs on streets and buildings. A strategy now is that localities would want a woody debris management plan.
The mitigation plan would address strategies such as how a locality would respond to large-scale power outages which leave public facilities without electricity. The plan may indicate juridictions want more than just emergency generators to power wastewater treatment facilities plants that supply drinking water to residents. As Keihn noted, for example, the plan may recommend identifying private businesses which could provide generators for those needs. Likewise, private businesses may help provide ice for cooling stations in the event of power outages during hot weather as what occurred after the derecho.
But as Keihn explained the plan would address hazards in a more general sense and would not tie stretegies to a specific event.
The regional commission scheduled an open house on the plan to provide information to the public and collect input from residents about potential hazards and response. The open house will be held at the commission's conference room at 400 E. Kendrick Lane from 4 p.m.-7:30 p.m., with presentations at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency makes funds available to localities through its hazard mitigation grant programs. FEMA requires jurisdictions plan for hazard mitigation in order to be eligible for these funds, according to Keihn. Once completed, the region's plan will assess hazards, establish mitigation goals and identify projects to help the Valley prepare for and reduce the impact of natural and manmade disasters, according to Keihn.
The regional commission has spearheaded the effort by convening the planning committees which include representatives from jurisdictions around the area.
Residents can also direct comments to the committees by contacting Keihn at 636-8800 or by email at jkeihn@NSVregion.org.