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Pre-disaster mitigation plan update meetings set next week


November 10, 2017

Havre Daily News staff

Residents of Blaine and Hill counties have been invited to meetings next week to help county officials work on updating their pre-disaster mitigation plans.

“Whomever would like to come and sit in and listen or comment,” Hill County Disaster and Emergency Service Coordinator Dave Sheppard said. “It is a countywide, community-wide disaster plan, so we definitely are open for public input.”

The meeting for Blaine County starts at noon Monday in the DES offices at 420 Ohio Street, while the Hill County meeting is Tuesday starting at 10:30 a.m. in the Hill County Detention Center.

The project is a required five-year update of the county pre-disaster mitigation plans. The purpose of the plan is to make communities more resilient and resistant to the damages caused by natural and man-made hazards — wildfire, flooding, severe weather, haz-mat incidents, etc. The Federal Emergency Management Agency requires that a PDM plan be in place for counties to receive disaster mitigation funds and apply for mitigation grants.  

The PDM plans will re-examine the wide range of hazards that affect Blaine and Hill counties, recent hazard events, the probability of future occurrences, and the vulnerabilities of structures and the population. From that risk assessment, a plan of action to mitigate these hazards will be developed and/or updated.  

The counties have contracted with Tetra Tech  Inc. to assist with the PDM Plan update. Although Tetra Tech will provide project management and technical assistance, and otherwise provide a majority of the administrative work on the plan, public participation is important to ensure vulnerabilities are identified and the appropriate mitigation projects included in the plan.

“Your assistance with update of the PDM Plan will ensure it is meaningful and relevant throughout Hill County,” Sheppard said in a letter inviting people to the Hill County meeting.

The projects have a 12-month timeframe for completion. The first public meeting will kick-off the project and, over the winter, officials will meet with the PDM planning team and complete the hazard profiles and risk assessment. By mid-May, the counties will have complete draft plans and hold a second public meeting to review the draft risk assessment and mitigation strategy.  

A 30-day review period will take place from mid-May to mid-June where people are encouraged to provide comments.  At the conclusion of the comment period, Tetra Tech will complete a plan revision and submit the updated plan to Montana DES and FEMA for review and approval. During this period, July to August, people will have a second opportunity to review the plan and provide comments.  

Based on further comments, Tetra Tech will complete another plan revision and submit the final document to the counties and incorporated communities within them.

Once the plan is adopted, the counties and their incorporated communities will remain eligible to receive FEMA funding for mitigation projects.

The region has seen first-hand the need for assistance in recent years, with flooding leading to federal disaster declarations in 2010, 2011 and 2013.

For more information on FEMA’s PDM Grant Program, visit https://www.fema.gov/pre-disaster-mitigation-grant-program.


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