The Duncan Banner

March 14, 2013

Mitigation Plan altered before FEMA review

Derrick Miller
The Duncan Banner


What is Mitigation?
Mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters. Mitigation is taking action now — before the next disaster — to reduce human and financial consequences later (analyzing risk, reducing risk, insuring against risk). Effective mitigation means making sure everyone understands local risks, deal with the hard choices, and invest in long-term community well-being. FEMA notes that without mitigation actions, the public’s safety, financial security and self-reliance is jeopardized.



The Mitigation Plan for the City of Duncan is evolving into something that will be more easily identifiable to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
During Thursday’s mitigation meeting, about 15 city and county officials reviewed the items they chose to remove from the Mitigation Plan, marked as completed or noted as ongoing at the previous meeting, held Jan. 23.
Steve Somerlott, with Hazard Mitigation Specialists LLC, led the meeting to recap the actions taken on the Mitigation Plan and to specify why certain actions were taken. Somerlott was joined by Charlie Balthrop with the State Emergency Management. Balthrop elaborated on some of the discussion items brought before the community leaders.
“We’re just trying to get the plan in a condition we think FEMA will approve it,” Balthrop said. “We deal with natural hazards. You can put anything in the plan you think you need to, but we can’t look at some of it.”
The city’s Mitigation Plan is being streamlined so the remaining projects can be added to Stephens County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Thursday’s meeting was about updating the projects and changing wording to make the projects more attractive to FEMA. Somerlott and Balthrop said FEMA avoids looking at anything that doesn’t fall under the realm of natural hazards.
For instance, structure fires are not considered natural hazards.
Projects, including the purchase or hazmat suits, were removed from the overall Mitigation Plan because they weren’t seen as being fundable mitigation through FEMA.
While the Jan. 23 meeting determined what action the community leaders wanted to take on each item on the list, Thursday’s meeting reflected on why those actions were taken.
With items deleted or completed from the list, the remaining projects were marked as ongoing. Somerlott said these are the items requiring the most attention.
Several of the ongoing items were marked to clarify language to make them more acceptable on FEMA’s terms. For the ongoing projects, the group had to determine several factors, including responsible party, length of project, cost and funding source.
“These are going to be the one they’ll actually be judging against,” Somerlott said. “It’s easy to approve a safe room because the offsetting cost is human life.”