Monday, June 17, 2024
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White County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan Updated

White County has updated its hazard mitigation plan to ensure the county is prepared for any natural disasters that come.

EMA Director Matt McBride said the plan identifies vulnerable areas and ensures there are plans in place and people ready to act in case a disaster does occur. McBride said the plan has shifted to focus more on severe weather and wildfires.

“I think that that’s becoming more, looked at a lot more carefully now since, you know, the incident up in Gatlinburg, and they just seem to be becoming more and more popular and more and more reoccurring as far as wildfires are, so I know that was one that we kind of talked about and discussed about a lot in those plans too,” McBride said.

McBride said the plan used to have a stronger focus on flooding, but efforts from the road department have mitigated much of that issue. He said the plan is a requirement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

He said they are required to revise and write a new plan once every five years, but they also review it annually to see if any major changes or additions are necessary.

“It’s basically like an all-hazards assessment and the steps and plans that you would use to utilize to maybe mitigate those hazards due to severe weather, earthquakes depending on the parts of the state or region of the county that you’re in,” McBride said. “Because other states, counties, cities also have their own form of a hazard mitigation plan.”

McBride said there were new regulations from FEMA requiring them to publicly advertise the development of the plan for the first time this year.

“You were required to have a public meeting to address, and we had a few public,” McBride said. “But basically the people that’s at – I would say the table, or the round table discussion of this, is anything from elected officials to emergency services department head, utility department head, city street, city administrator, county mayor, county finance director, EM, some of your fire department. The town of Doyle had representation. City of Sparta also had representation during this plan review.”

McBride said he thinks the new regulations were instituted to encourage the opportunity for public buy-in.

“Because a lot of times what hazard mitigation deals with is the public, the taxpayer, your citizens, your population, is – and that is part of that – what the plan addresses is, what to do with these people,” McBride said. “What do you do when there’s an emergency with your population, you know, with your citizens, you know, shelter locations and so forth.”