MPPDC to review updated natural hazards plan

by Bill Nachman - Posted on Aug 11, 2010 - 02:52 PM

The Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission will hold a community meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Gloucester County Department of Information Technology building (old library) in the Gloucester village to review a draft of the region’s updated natural hazards mitigation plan.

This plan seeks to identify and evaluate natural hazards that affect the region and then preserve a number of cost-effective mitigation strategies in an attempt to lessen the adverse impacts from future nature-based hazardous events, said Ron Hachey, regional emergency preparedness planner for MPPDC.

Tuesday’s meeting will focus on the southern Middle Peninsula jurisdictions of Gloucester, Mathews and Middlesex counties, Hachey said, and officials familiar with the plan will be available to go over its contents including the types of mitigation strategies that are being proposed.

Dan Kavanagh, executive director of MPPDC, said Hachey briefed the commission board about the plan during a meeting July 28 in Saluda. A report said the commission guided the development of the first regional plan in 2006, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency requiring that plan to be updated every five years or, in this case, by Jan. 6, 2011.

The 2010 update includes many types of natural hazards, from hurricanes to landslides to dam failure. A committee has added sea level rise as a new natural hazard for the 2010 ranking, a report said, "due to the emerging evidence that it is becoming a world-wide phenomenon."

As part of the flood mitigation planning work in 2009, a hazard identification and risk assessment was undertaken using the FEMA-generated HAZUS-MH software program, which is a regional multi-hazard loss estimation model that was developed by FEMA and the National Institute of Building Sciences.

According to a report, the primary purpose of HAZUS is to provide a methodology and a software application to develop multi-hazard estimated financial losses at a regional scale. Although the HAZUS model is theoretical, it does give an indication of the locations and the magnitude of losses that could be anticipated during severe weather events.

All Middle Peninsula localities have implemented local flood plain ordinances in accordance with basic FEMA requirements, Kavanagh said. Also, the jurisdictions have adopted local erosion and sediment control ordinances as part of their county code, he said.

Also, the report said that "public infrastructure mitigation projects will be undertaken by the local governing bodies when they determine that the benefits outweigh the costs."

The report said that goals of the 2010 update include preventing future losses resulting from natural hazard events; improving community emergency management capabilities, and increasing the public’s awareness, and an educational review of their vulnerabilities to natural hazards.

The public is invited to attend this meeting, Hachey said, and to review the contents of the updated plan at that time. For more information, contact Hachey at 758-2311 or rhachey@mppdc.com.