Drafts of the plans to update three counties’ plans to reduce damage and danger in case of a disaster have been placed online for review and comment.
Tetra Tech Inc., the company updating predisaster mitigation plans, or PDMs, for Blaine, Hill and Phillips counties, has completed the first of the updates and placed the drafts for review at http://www.blaine-hill-phillips-pdm.com.
“The effects from several natural and man-made hazards may directly impact the safety and wellbeing of residents of (the county), ” the plans say. “Historically, (county) residents have dealt with floods, wildfire, harsh winter storms with extreme cold and blizzards, severe summer storms with damaging thunderstorms, and hazardous material incidents. While most hazards cannot be eliminated, the effects from them can be mitigated. ”
The three counties applied for a grant to update the plans. Updates are required every five years by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The time spent by people reviewing and commenting on the plan can be applied to the local cost share, more than $5,300 for each county.
The website has the draft plans — and background information about the process and other information — is split into a section for each county.
The plan section includes a reader’s guide and a comment review form, as well as the online sections of the plan itself including a comment form.
Each section of each plan — such as the risk assessment methodology for each county, or each particular item such as the risk assessment of wildfires in Hill County, flooding in Blaine County, or the mitigation strategies for each county — can be accessed separately. Each section has a PDF format document to be downloaded for viewing online or printing.
In the reader’s guides for the county plans, the county Disaster and Emergency Services coordinators invite people to mail or email comments to them.
The process followed to prepare each plan update included:
• Reviewing and prioritizing disaster events that are most probable and destructive,
• Updating and identifying new critical facilities,
• Reviewing and updating areas within each community that are most vulnerable,
• Updating and identifying new goals for reducing the effects of a disaster event,
• Reviewing and identifying new projects to be implemented for each goal,
• Reviewing and identifying new procedures for monitoring progress and updating the PDM Plan,
• Reviewing the draft PDM Plan, and
• Adopting the updated PDM Plan.
Once the comment period is complete for the plans — comments must be submitted by May 25 for Hill and Phillips counties and May 18 for Blaine County— the drafts will be revised as necessary.
Blaine County is on a fast track for review and updating, with the state and FEMA doing initial reviews at the same time as the public comment period, with a hoped-for earlier approval by all jurisdictions.
For Hill and Phillips counties, after the public comment period ends and any necessary changes made, the plans will be submitted to the state. After the state reviews the plan for 30 days, any more changes necessary will be made, then it will be sent to FEMA for a 60-day review to ensure it meets that agency’s requirements.
After final review, any more changes necessary will be made, then the plans will be turned over to the different jurisdictions for approval.
In Hill County, that is the county government, the City of Havre and the incorporated city of Hingham.
Blaine County, Chinook, Harlem, Phillips County, Malta, Dodson and Saco are the other jurisdictions working on updating their plans.
Comments on the PDM Plan draft can be sent to:
Blaine County Disaster and Emergency Services
P. O. Box 576
Chinook, MT 59523
Hill County Disaster and Emergency Services
302 4th Ave.
Havre, MT 59501
Phillips County Disaster and Emergency Services
P. O. Box 1090
Malta, MT 59538-1090