Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan featured at Nov. 8 meetings

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Sanders County is initiating the five-year update to their Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan, and two public meetings have been scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 8 in the county.

The first meeting is at 9:30 a.m. at the Justice Court courtroom in the Sanders County Courthouse, 1111 Main St. in Thompson Falls. Another meeting is planned for noon the same day in the Avista multi-purpose room at Noxon Dam.

Anyone with interest in or concerns about the Sanders County Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan (MHMP) is invited to attend one or both of the meetings, and participate in the five-year update.

According to Bill Naegeli of Sanders County Office of Emergency Management (OEM), by providing input and direction as a project stakeholder you can assist the OEM by representing your interests in making communities in the county more resilient and resistant to the damages caused by natural and man-made hazards. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requires that a MHMP be in place for the county to receive disaster mitigation funds and apply for mitigation grants.

Sanders County received a $50,000 FEMA Homeland Security grant — geared to update the plan.

THE MHMP will re-examine the wide range of hazards that affect Sanders County, recent hazard events, the probability of future occurrences, and the vulnerabilities of our structures and population. From that assessment, a plan of action to mitigate these hazards can be updated. Assistance with updating the MHMP will ensure it is meaningful and relevant throughout Sanders County.

Sanders County has contracted with Tetra Tech, Inc., a consulting and engineering firm in Missoula, to assist with the MHMP update. Although Tetra Tech will provide project management, 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 are included in the Plan. The current Plan was created by Tetra Tech in 2012.

“We have a six-month timeframe for completing the project,” Naegeli wrote in a news release.

Bi-weekly Planning Team meetings will be held during November, December and January to identify and rank the hazards which will be profiled in the Plan, and update the county’s mitigation strategy.

“By February we will have a draft Plan and hold a second public meeting to review the draft risk assessment and mitigation strategy,” Naegeli said. “A 45-day review period will take place during February and March where we encourage you to provide us with your comments.”

AT THE conclusion of the comment period, Tetra Tech will complete a Plan revision and submit the updated Plan to FEMA for review and approval.

During this period (April-May 2019) the public 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 Sanders County, the cities of Thompson Falls and Plains, and Town of Hot Springs for adoption. Once the Plan is adopted, Sanders County and the incorporated communities will remain eligible to receive FEMA funding for mitigation projects.

“Update of the Sanders County MHMP will go a long way to save lives and protect property in our county,” Naegeli said.

If you have any questions or need additional information, contact Naegeli at 406-827-6955 or Daphne Digrindakis with Tetra Tech at 406-475-2648, or go online to www.countypdm.com and select Sanders County / Falls. Use the password Thompson Falls to access the information.

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