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Supervisors OK hazard plan

BY KAITLIN DEWULF | APRIL 18, 2014 5:00 AM

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The five-year effort to establish Johnson County’s first comprehensive hazard-mitigation plan continues to push toward increased disaster protection across the county. The county Board of Supervisors adopted the Johnson County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation plan in a unanimous vote on Thursday.

Iowa City Department Services coordinator John Yapp said every community has its own hazard-mitigation plan, but that will change under the newly adopted plan. “What is new is now it’s all folded into one countywide plan,” Yapp said. “And that will encourage cooperation on many of the projects.”

The purpose of the plan is to identify how a community can minimize death, injury, property damage, and community disruption caused by natural, human, or combination hazards. In order to better protect Johnson County, the hazard-mitigation plan will use a proactive rather than reactive approach to reduce the negative effects of potential hazards.

Supervisor Rod Sullivan said having a single multi-jurisdictional plan is good for numerous reasons, including seamlessness, allowing communities to work together, and avoiding duplicating services. “The most important thing is that we have [the plan] in place,” he said. “So if you need it, the federal funds are available to you.”

Johnson County Emergency Management Director Dave Wilson said the adoption of hazard-mitigation plan will now allow governmental entities to be eligible to apply for grant funding.

Supervisor Janelle Rettig said the state has approved the plan as well.

The next step will be to file the plan with the sate and the Federal Emergency Management Agencies, which Yapp said shouldn’t be a long process. Yapp said after the plan is filed, the communities in Johnson County can start applying for grant money to pursue projects in the plan. He said solely adopting the hazard-mitigation plan doesn’t get them any funding.

“The next step is to apply for grant funds as funding is made available to pursue the projects in the plan,” he said. Yapp said some examples of proactive points in the plan include enhancing communication with emergency responders, improving generators in critical facilities for power outages, removing facilities from floodplains, and elevating areas and bridges above the floodplain.

“There are some very useful things in [the hazard mitigation plan],” said Oxford Mayor Gary Wilkinson. “And it helps remind everyone what their roles are in the community.” He said if more than one particular town is affected by a disaster, the plan would be a helpful tool to Johnson County.

“We’re glad to have this done,” Sullivan said. “We hope we never have to use [the plan], but if we do, we know we’re prepared.”


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