The public is being asked to provide input for an update to a Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan for Grant County.

The revised plan will not only include updated information for emergency planning but will focus on Grant County rather than be regional in scope, Grant County Emergency Management Coordinator Ted Williams told the Eagle.

The goals of natural hazard mitigation planning are to avoid disasters by reducing or eliminating long-term risk to people, property and the environment; to maintain eligibility for federal disaster-related funding; and to increase safety and resiliency by integrating hazard mitigation into plans, programs and policies.

Eight natural hazards have been broadly identified. At the top in priority are wildfires, severe winter storms, floods and drought, followed by volcanic activity, wind storms, landslides and earthquakes.

Work on the plan update is being funded with an Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development grant, Williams said. A steering committee to work on the update currently has 24 members, including state and county officials, city representatives, school officials, local fire chiefs and first responders.

Based on the results of the steering committee’s analysis, mitigation actions will be developed to help make Grant County more resilient to these natural hazards. Mitigation actions can include local plans and regulations, structure and infrastructure projects, natural systems protections, education programs and awareness programs.

Some of these mitigation activities may be eligible for future Federal Emergency Management Administration funding, such as localized flood reduction measures, property acquisition and relocation, infrastructure retrofits, creating defensible space around homes and businesses for wildfires and even weatherizing homes to help make homes more resilient to climate fluctuations, such as hotter summers and colder winters.

The steering committee will meet from 9-11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 9, at the Oregon Department of Forestry building in John Day. The meeting is open to the public.

Residents and interested parties can also provide input through a public opinion survey online at https://forms.gle/XGt2ewvYLhieAKzs8. Williams can be contacted at 541-575-0990 or williamst@grantcounty-or.gov.

In separate but parallel work, a FEMA Risk MAP meeting will be held in Grant County on Sept. 13, with some of the same steering committee members in attendance. The meeting is not open to the public.

“It is what they call a discovery meeting,” Grant County Planning Director Hilary McNary told the Eagle. “Essentially they are in the process of understanding (discovering) what risks face our community and how they can help.”

McNary said her primary interest is updating flood maps for the county that will be accurate and reflect the actual risk of a flood event for a specific property. The FEMA meeting will also cover wildfires, landslides and other hazards.

Reporter

Richard Hanners is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. He can be contacted at rick@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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