County hazard mitigation plan updated

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By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


The Elkader City Council recently approved a resolution adopting Clayton County’s multi-jurisdictional multi-hazard mitigation plan, which, according to Clayton County Emergency Management Coordinator Sarah Moser, was a routine, yet necessary, five-year update to the already existing plan. 


One reason for the update is to ensure the plan remains in compliance with FEMA standards, which allows the county to remain eligible to receive federal dollars during a disaster. Moser also noted it benefits the involved jurisdictions that must review current strategies and priorities and update them accordingly. 


“Our county is always evolving and changing.  Priorities for mitigation activities change based on the recent disasters we have been impacted by,” Moser commented. 


Involved in the update was the main planning team, the Emergency Management Commission, with each city and county having representation, as well as others who were invited to participate and provide feedback. During the update, the commission took notice of the disasters that have occurred over the past five years, not just in the Clayton County, but around the area as well.  


“We want to learn from other counties so that we aren’t impacted to the same level they may have been. One of the big discussions was the derecho and the impacts to power. Jurisdictions discussed many times the need for generators and where to have them in their community to best serve their citizens,” Moser said. “The other obvious area we have discussed would be pandemics and the impacts they have on communities. With still being in the midst of one, we still don’t know the totality of gaps that need to be addressed and mitigated.”


This new multi-jurisdictional approach wasn’t always the case, but it has proven beneficial, especially in creating a cohesive plan for the county. Because each jurisdiction attends the planning meetings, they are able to talk to and learn from each other, gaining insight and sharing ideas on how to best mitigate disasters. 


 “The more we mitigate, the less we have to spend on recovery efforts,” Moser said. 


Some of the high priority mitigation efforts the plan confronts are river floods, severe winter storms, flash floods, tornadoes, windstorms, thunderstorms and lightning and human disease. The plan even covers the issue of terrorism, giving it a far reaching nature, addressing what Moser described as “hazards that we may not think about, or want to think about.” 


“We need to have a plan of response and address ways to mitigate such an event so our communities can have the least amount of negative impact,” Moser added. 


Currently, only four of the 17 jurisdictions have adopted the plan, but Moser is hopeful that, within the next month or so, all jurisdictions will have adopted the plan.

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