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Schuylkill works to update flood mitigation plans

Published September 06. 2018 12:31PM

More money is trickling into Schuylkill County’s flood mitigation plans.

County commissioners on Wednesday approved increasing the amount being paid to Tetra Tech Inc. by $3,120 for work associated with the county’s 2018 flood meeting.

The addition brings the contract cap to $76,571.

It’s money well spent in light of this summer’s flooding, especially the hard-hit areas including Tremont, Pine Grove and Port Carbon.

The company’s work will be to focus on mitigation actions to reduce future flood risk and integrate into the county’s Hazard Mitigation Plan update.

The county is about two-thirds of the way through updating its federally required Hazard Mitigation Plan, said County Planning Director Susan A. Smith.

The plan addresses all types of hazards, including floods, drought, tornadoes, winter storms, wildfires, land/mine subsidence, hurricanes and windstorms, hazardous materials incidents, transportation related incidents and dam failures.

“This plan was last updated in 2013 and will expire on Jan. 10, 2019. Hazard Mitigation Plans are a requirement of the federal Disaster Mitigation Act 2000, which requires every state, county and local municipality who may receive mitigation to have a hazard mitigation plan,” she said.

The plans are required to be updated every five years, Smith said.

“The county Hazard Mitigation Plan is a collaborative effort to identify, reduce or eliminate the risk to human life and property from natural or human-caused hazards. (The plan) demonstrates a commitment to reduce disaster losses and sets forth a proactive strategy for decision-makers and other partners to build resilience. A successful Hazard Mitigation Plan helps to protect the county’s economy, environment, housing and residents and helps to bring funding to local mitigation projects,” she said.

Smith said that “because this is a multimunicipal plan, we ask all of the municipalities to participate.”

That means attending meetings, providing input and information, reviewing the draft documents, and at the conclusion of the update passing a resolution adopting the plan.

“Also, because this is about two-thirds the way through, we didn’t have any more information-gathering meetings scheduled. We recognized an opportunity to post these flooding events to collect information and ideas that would be fresh on the mind of municipal officials and emergency responders with the goal, in part, of collecting implementable, achievable projects to reduce the overall risk from flooding,” Smith said.

The 2018 meeting is called a “hot wash” meeting simply because of the meeting format that we are using — less ‘meeting’ and more interaction,” Smith said.

“While the countywide plan examines the risks to every municipality from a wide variety of hazards, we asked the municipalities to declare their intent to participate by signing a letter explaining their role in this plan update,” she said.

While not all municipalities signed on to participate, within the Tamaqua Area School District, Tamaqua borough and West Penn, Walker and Ryan townships, have. Neither Coaldale nor Rush Township are participating in Schuylkill’s flood meeting.

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