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By BETH ZUMWALT
The committee formed to discuss frequency and severity of storms and other natural disasters is gathering data and other information to be used to form a mitigation plan.
“I have emergency preparedness plans,” Josh Martin, emergency service director for Pike County, said. “But we are trying to put together a mitigation plan, something to prevent injuries or worse in the event of a natural disaster. There is a contingency for man-made disasters but our focus is on natural disasters.”
The focus of this effort is on natural hazards— severe thunderstorms with damaging winds or hail, tornadoes, snow and ice storms, floods, drought, excessive heat, earthquakes and dam and levee failures.
Martin said Pike County’s top priority is severe storms, flooding and tornadoes.
“Severe storms and tornadoes are considered two separate categories,” Martin said. “We are in an active earth quake zone but that is a low priority, according to the guidelines.”
According to Martin, one idea that has been presented is to have safe rooms in each community where people could go in the event of a storm.
“Pittsfield might need several, while other towns might just need one,” he said. “Other towns might need to look at their storm sewer systems to reduce flooding. Each area has different needs.”
Martin said once the data is collected from all the stake holders, a meticulous task, the information will be sent to American Environmental in Springfield, which will put a plan together.
“Once we have an officially recognized plan with FEMA, we might be eligible for some funding to see some of the identified projects completed,” Martin said.
“This Plan will be our best resource for determining how to prepare for storms and other natural hazards. After the Plan update is completed, comprehensive information will be available in one document to help guide those who are making decisions about how to better protect Pike County residents,” added Martin
This committee, comprised of County and municipal representatives as well as technical partners and stakeholders, will meet over the next several months to update the Pike County All Hazards Mitigation Plan. All Committee Meetings are open to the public.
Participants include Pike County and the incorporated municipalities, as well as, several fire protection districts, drainage and levee districts, schools and healthcare organizations.