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Public Input Wanted as County Updates Hazard Mitigation Plan


Public Input Wanted as County Updates Hazard Mitigation Plan

Houston County residents, community leaders business owners area agencies and organizations now have an opportunity to share how severe weather events impact their property and lives. There is also an opportunity to share their ideas on how to reduce local in1pacts in the future.
The Houston County Office of Emergency Management is working with U-Spatial at the University of Minnesota Duluth to update the county’s Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP). The plan assesses the natural hazards that pose risk to the county, such as tornadoes, straight line winds ice storms, blizzards wildfire, flooding and extreme temperatures and identifies ways to minimize the damage of future events. As the county works to update the plan, it wants to hear from the public.

The Houston County HMP is a multi-jurisdictional plan that covers Houston County, including the cities of Brownsville, Caledonia, Eitzen, Hokah, Houston, La Crescent, and Spring Grove. The Houston County HMP also incorporates the concerns and needs of townships, school districts, and area agencies or organizations participating in the plan. The plan will be updated by a planning tean1 made up of representatives from county departments, local municipalities, school districts and other key stakeholders. When completed, the plan will be submitted to the Minnesota Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for approval.

“Hazard mitigation planning is a central part of our emergency management program” said Mark Olson, Houston County Emergency Management Director. “Understanding the natural hazards that can cause serious impact to our communities and taking action to reduce or eliminate the impact of future disasters makes us more resilient. Hazard mitigation helps us to break the cycle of damage and repair caused by things like flooding, ice storms, and severe wind events that can damage property, stress economies, and threaten life safety in our county.”

Examples of hazard mitigation include:

• Conducting public outreach on severe weather awareness and preparedness
• Limiting or restricting development in floodplain areas
• Removing existing buildings from flood or erosion prone hazard areas
• Using snow fences to limit blowing and drifting of snow over road corridors
• Constructing tornado safe rooms in vulnerable areas such as mobile home parks
• Burying overhead powerlines that may fail due to heavy snow, ice, or windstorms

Some mitigation activities may be eligible for future FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant funding.
Public input is an essential part of the plan update. As part of the planning process, Houston County is seeking feedback from residents and businesses from across the county to incorporate into the plan:

• What are the natural hazards you feel pose the greatest risk to your community?
• What concerns do you have, and what sorts of actions do you feel would help to reduce damages of fuh1re hazard events in your community or the county as a whole?

Comments, concerns, or questions regarding nah1ral disasters and potential mitigation actions to be included into the plan update should be submitted to Houston County Emergency Management by phone, email, or by posting a comment via a social media posting of this article.
There will be additional opportunities for public feedback throughout the planning process. A draft of the plan will be made available for public review prior to submission of the plan to the State of Minnesota. Future news releases will be shared with the media to notify the public of these opportunities.

The Federal Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA 2000) requires counties to update their plan every 5 years to maintain eligibility for FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant programs.


Mark Olson
Houston County Emergency Management Director
Phone: (507) 725-5834