County Officials Begins Update To Hazard Mitigation Plan

MAYVILLE – Mitigation planning that would reduce the long-term effects of natural disasters in Chautauqua County is being updated.

More than 75 leaders representing every city, town and village in the county gathered Thursday at the Office of Emergency Services in Mayville. The kickoff meeting set in motion an update to the Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan.

“There are a lot of hazards out there that we want to look at,” said Dennis Lawlor, project manager for Ecology and Environment, the group hired to develop the mitigation plan. “We want to make sure everyone in their town has identified hazards and develop goals.”

In a nutshell, mitigation planning allows communities to take a look at potential cost-reducing actions while focusing on areas of risks and vulnerabilities as a result of natural disasters, said Julius Leone, county fire coordinator.

Those disasters include: areas prone to flooding, snow and ice storms, tornadoes and drought, among others. The individual assessment and goals from every community will fall under the countywide mitigation plan,

“It allows communities to take a hard look into what those vulnerabilities are and then develop a plan to mitigate them,” Leone said.

The county’s first mitigation plan was developed in-house in 2006, and allows communities to seek funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the event of a declared disaster.

For example, federal funding was secured in Silver Creek after mass floodings occurred in August 2009. Leone said without a mitigation plan developed by Silver Creek officials to address flooding, crucial funding would not have been received.

“These plans are tied to natural disasters,” he said. “You can receive a certain amount of dollars when funding becomes available. If that town or village doesn’t have a plan in place, then they’re not eligible.”

A grant was recently secured to update the mitigation plan, which is expected to cost $50,000 to develop and submit to FEMA.

Risk assessments from every community are due in July, Lawlor told area leaders. A second meeting is slated for mid-July, and a third in early September.

The mitigation plan is scheduled to be submitted in November.