Meade County to update Hazard Mitigation Plan

Meade County was able to tap into FEMA funds in recent years when roads and bridges were damaged in flooding because the county has a Hazard Mitigation Plan. Courtesy photo

STURGIS — The Black Hills Council of Local Governments will update Meade County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan which was last updated in 2016.

Jennifer Sietsema, executive director of the Black Hills Council of Local Governments, said Tuesday that she and her staff as well as county planners would be involved in updating the document. The current plan does not expire until September 2021.

The total cost of the project is about $16,000 with $12,000 being paid by the federal government. The local share is $4,000, much of which would be an in-kind match.

Sietsema gave an overview of the process to the Meade County Commission Tuesday. She wanted to determine the commissioners preference of format for stakeholder meetings and public comment.

She said the planning would be broken down into four portions to be completed in the coming months. The process would include meetings not only with the county, but also with cities within the county to gather information.

Sietsema said the county would need to make the plan available to the public for comments and a final review from the commission before sending to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

An updated plan must be approved by the county to receive federal funds for a portion of the salary of Doug Huntrods’ Meade County’s Emergency Management Director, Sietsema said.

 The purpose of the mitigation plan update is to ensure that Meade County’s strategies to reduce risks to people and property from hazard events are relevant and effective, Sietsema said.

“The whole purpose of the plan is to talk about where we know there is risk or we know we’re vulnerable. When we talk about that, we are really talking about natural hazards for the most part. And, if we know there is risk somewhere, what can we do to mitigate that,” she said.

One of the least expensive ways to mitigate is to regulate such as not allowing people to build in areas that are prone to flooding.

Sietsema said the plan is a major revision to the county’s 2016 plan and is in compliance with the FEMA’s latest Local Mitigation Planning Guidance and the requirements of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000. Through the development and adoption of the plan, Meade County, Faith, Summerset, Piedmont, and Sturgis are eligible for FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Programs, she said.

Sietsema said she, her assistant and staff in the Meade County Planning department will work on updating the plan and return to an upcoming county commission meeting to get both commission and public comment on the plan.

“The planning department is going to be able to provide us with the information that we really need,” she said.

A draft of the plan would also be posted on the county’s Facebook page in the coming months for people to review, Sietsema said. There also are plans for an online survey, she said.

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