Monday, November 11, 2013
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New Logan County Hazards Mitigation Plan heads into approval processes

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[November 11, 2013]  A new Logan County plan aimed at preventing loss of life and reducing property damage is now completed and being readied for several steps of approval processes.

The Logan County Multi-Jurisdictional All Hazards Mitigation Planning Committee met on Oct. 17 for its last session. The committee's work, which took a year, was to identify needs, define and rank projects related to hazards that could affect lives, health and property in Logan County.

The Logan County Hazards Mitigation Plan is the result of a nearly five-year process spearheaded by the Logan County Emergency Management Agency, with deputy director Terry Storer in charge of developing the plan.

The committee's planning stage was led by consultant Greg Michaud, an environmental specialist, and Andrea Bostwick, an environmental analyst, both of Johnson, Depp & Quisenberry of Springfield.

Storer said that contracting with a consultant for this stage was the best way to go. It definitely saved on costs, and Storer said he felt that they got the job done quicker and better this way. The consulting firm had templates already developed and knew what they were doing. Storer said it had been good to work with Michaud and Bostwick.

The committee consisted of representatives from governmental jurisdictions within Logan County and other public sectors, such as agencies associated with health care, insurance, GIS, agriculture and emergency services, including law enforcement and fire departments. Entities included the cities of Atlanta, Mount Pulaski and Lincoln; the villages of Emden, Hartsburg, Broadwell, Elkhart and San Jose; the Logan County offices of assessments, board, clerk, EMA, 911 dispatch, highway, public health, sheriff, zoning/GIS; the Logan-Mason-Menard Regional Office of Education; Mount Pulaski Rural Fire Protection District 2 (Chestnut); Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital; Illinois Central Management Services; Anita Frizzell; and plan consultants from Johnson, Depp & Quisenberry.

What was put in the Logan County plan?

Projects related to the most frequent types of damage, primarily weather-related, in Logan County.

So, what does having a plan do for Logan County?

Much like having a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, or CEDS, which correlates with a Comprehensive Plan of community and county infrastructure needs, the All Hazards Mitigation Plan is linked to the Logan County EMA's Emergency Response Plan. The Hazards Mitigation Plan enables greater access to funding, grant money primarily, that would aid in prevention or recovery from disasters, with some funding that otherwise might not be accessible.

During the final half-hour meeting that took place two weeks ago, the committee learned more about getting those funds.

Before applications can begin, the plan needs to go to state and federal levels for approvals. Then the Logan County plan comes back down to the local level for adoption by all the jurisdictional participants. Committee members will be notified by email when it returns.

After a jurisdiction has adopted the plan, it can apply for federal mitigation grants for projects in the plan as funds become available. In the event of a state-declared or federally declared disaster, having a plan would also assist in recovery fund applications to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency. In addition, for other non-disaster-related grants, having projects in the plan would gain favor for those requests.

Dan Fulscher, Logan County EMA director, further elaborated on how partnering projects in the mitigation plan with other construction needs could help everyone. He illustrated with something he had heard during the county meeting just the night before. The county's animal control facility is overcrowded and needs more space. The plan is to budget each year until the saved-up fund is adequate to build.

Fulscher suggested it might be possible to add a storm shelter for neighbors in the office portion of the building project. A mitigation grant could reduce the construction costs by as much as 75 percent.

Bundling projects this way is a good use of dollars and does more for a community, he pointed out. Fulscher encouraged everyone to look at their projects in the plan and "think outside the box;" bundling mitigation needs with other community needs if possible.

Michaud complimented the participants for their work in choosing potential projects. He observed that disasters throughout the world, in the U.S. and in Illinois in the past year "illustrate the need for mitigation planning if we are to reduce property damages, deaths and injuries from severe weather."

How was the plan constructed?

The plan was divided by countywide interest and community-specific interest.

A cross grid identified and rated how proposed projects might address a hazard, with listed hazards being dam failure, drought, extreme heat, earthquake, flood, severe storm, winter storm and tornado.

  • Would the project reduce or eliminate the effect of the hazard?

  • Type of mitigation activity needed: regulatory actions, structural projects, public involvement, studies, miscellaneous and property protection.

  • Size of population affected.

  • Would the project reduce hazard effects on new or existing structures and infrastructure?

  • Time frame to complete project.

  • Funding sources and a cost-benefit analysis.

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What types of projects are in the Logan County plan?

The committee began by considering past disaster records.

Since 1950, there have been 59 tornadoes verified in Logan County. The combined damage cost $39 million and resulted in 75 injuries and one death. The average tornado is 3 miles long and 145 yards wide.

Since 1951, records available show there have been 46 floods, causing at least $3.5 million in damage. While potential damage from stream flooding can be calculated (at least a quarter of a million dollars, depending on location), flash flooding is unpredictable.

Natural and man-made hazards included in the Logan County All Hazards Mitigation Plan include:

  • Severe storms with hail, lightning or heavy rain.

  • Severe winter storms with snow, ice and extreme cold.

  • Flooding.

  • Extreme heat.

  • Drought.

  • Earthquakes.

  • Dams.

  • Man-made hazards:

    • Hazardous substances (generation and transportation).

    • Waste disposal.

    • Waste management.

    • Terrorism.

The committee identified that in Logan County, high wind and tornado damage should be of greater concern than flooding.

Below is a small sampling of actual projects in the drafted plan:

  • In the county: Storm siren systems, safe shelter in the Logan County Courthouse, backup generators at the airport, grounding system at the courthouse to protect critical systems from a lighting strike or an electromagnetic pulse event.

  • For Beason and Chestnut: Fire hydrants in Beason, and a water storage tower to aid in suppressing fires in the Chestnut-Beason area.

  • In the countryside: Various flood management and relief actions were proposed, particularly to prevent flooded roadways. Examples included increasing the culvert size to prevent roadway flooding at 875th Street, and cleaning brush and debris out of waterways at bridge and culvert locations within the township.

  • Elkhart's plan included potential hazards related to the Viper mine, such as if the dam would be breached. The plan proposes creating flood plains.

  • To protect our children, hardening materials are proposed for Logan County school windows. This would include window safety films. And, make the buildings resistant to natural and man-made hazards.

Following the last meeting of the committee, there was an open house for the public to review and comment on the proposed document. A two-week comment time concluded on Oct. 31.

Now, any public comments that were submitted would be added by the consultants, and Storer said that within the next few weeks, the document would be submitted to IEMA. If approved by IEMA, it will go on to FEMA for approval.

What's in the future planning?

A subgroup will meet annually to update any project status, and add or amend projects for jurisdictions that are already part of the plan.

A full review of the plan and the opportunity to add jurisdictions would take place every five years.

At the conclusion of the meeting, all those who had participated were recognized with a certificate for their dedication and contributions.

All Hazards Mitigation Committee: Terry Carlton, Barb Kline, Fred Finchum, Mike Harrison, William Kennett, Joe Ryan, Margaret Lee, Arnold Collier, Ivan Rademaker, Tom Anderson, Dean Leesman, Mark Miller, Gene Rohlfs, Sally Litterly, Shana Altman, Dan Fulscher, Terry Storer, Cheryl Hedrick, Alana Sorrentino, Bucky Washam, James Drew, Bret Aukamp, John Bunner, Rosanne Brosamer, Will D'Andrea, Jean Anderson, Mike Patridge, Reynold Goff, Anita Frizzell, Kirby Rogers, Chris Miller.


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