Brown County seeks input for disaster hazard plan update

BROWN COUNTY — The Brown County Office of Emergency Management is seeking comments, concerns and questions about natural disasters and potential mitigation (lessening the intensity) action to be part of the plan update process.

The office seeks input to determine what natural hazards people feel pose the greatest community risk, whether or not people have experienced disaster events and what actions or projects does the public feel would reduce the damage of potential future events on personal property, your community or Brown County?

Hazard mitigation examples include improvement roads and culverts that experience repetitive flooding; construction of safe rooms at campgrounds, parks, mobile home parks or schools to protect lives in the event of tornadoes or severe wind events.

Other mitigation examples are burying power lines that may fail due to heavy snow, ice or wind storms; ensuring timely emergency communication to the public through warning sirens and mass notification systems; and conducting public awareness and education campaigns to help people to prepared to take safe action before, during, or after a hazard event.

The Brown County Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan (MHMP) is a multi-jurisdictional plan covering the county including Cobden, Comfrey, Evan, Hanska, New Ulm, Sleepy Eye and Springfield. The plan includes the concerns and needs of townships, school districts, and other stakeholders participating in the plan.

Brown County is vulnerable to a variety of natural disasters that threaten the loss of life and property in the county. Hazards such as tornadoes, floods, wildfires, blizzards, straight-line winds, ice storms, and droughts have the potential for inflicting vast economic loss and personal hardship.

“Hazard mitigation planning is a central part of our emergency management program,” said Brown County Emergency Management Director Laine Sletta. “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 disasters that can damage properties, stress economies and threaten life safety in our county.”

Some mitigation may be eligible for future FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant funding such as localized flood reduction measures, property acquisition and relocation/conversion to open space, infrastructure retrofits, wildfire mitigation, and safe room construction or retrofits to provide immediate life-safety protection for people vulnerable to tornado or severe wind events.

The Brown County Office of Emergency Management is working with the University of Minnesota Duluth – Geospatial Analysis Center (GAC) to prepare an update of the county’s 2013 MHMP. The plan is a requirement of the Federal Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA 2000) and must be updated every five years to maintain eligibility for certain federal disaster assistance and hazard mitigation programs.

The public will have a continual opportunity to participate in the MHMP update in the coming months. A draft of the plan will be posted on the Brown County website (www.co.brown.mn.us) for public review prior to submission to the State of Minnesota.

The public is strongly encouraged to submit feedback to Sletta at 507-233-6644 or laine.sletta@co.brown.mn.us

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.