LITTLE VALLEY - Cattaraugus County will host a public information meeting on its Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan to obtain public comments and to provide information on the plan at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 27, at the Little Valley County Center.
Cattaraugus County has received a grant to complete a mandatory five-year update of its existing Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan. The plan will identify key actions to be taken to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to human life and property from natural disasters such as floods, severe storms and ice storms. The Federal Emergency Management Agency defines hazard mitigation as a "sustained action taken to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and their property from hazards."
The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 requires local governments to have a hazard mitigation plan approved by FEMA. The plan will eventually form the basis for a long-term strategy to help reduce or eliminate disaster losses and break the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction and repeated damage.
To be in compliance the Disaster Mitigation Act, a municipality must by recognized by FEMA for its participation in the county's hazard mitigation plan development process and formally adopt the final plan or prepare its own hazard mitigation plan.
The planning process allows Cattaraugus County and its partners to identify ways to significantly reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards.
"It creates a risk-based decision making process for reducing damages to lives, property and the local economy from future disasters," said Crystal Gross, Cattaraugus County's mitigation plan coordinator.
Having a FEMA-approved mitigation plan also maintains the county's and its partners' eligibility for certain federal disaster assistance and hazard mitigation funding programs.
"The entire planning process is just as important as the plan itself," Gross said. "In order to apply for any mitigation funding, you must have FEMA approval."
All municipalities and organizations that participate in the county plan or have their own approved plan are eligible for FEMA pre-disaster funding. The funding can be used to identify and construct projects that reduce long-term risks to life and property from a natural disaster.
"Hazard mitigation plans are developed BEFORE a disaster strikes. That's why it is vitally important that all of our municipalities either participate in this process or prepare their own plans," Gross said.
Once completed, the plan will identify community policies, actions and resources for long-term implementation to reduce risk and potential future losses. The county and its partners will adopt, implement and maintain the plan on an ongoing basis, which will gradually lessen the impacts associated with natural disasters.
All county municipalities will be contacted to re-affirm their participation in the process and to allow them to add any new areas of concern since the current plan was adopted in 2007.