Planning for Future Hazards

Photo by Cassidy Murphy Readers of The Sound, like Cassidy Murphy of Branford, were instrumental in sending us photos showing where hazards were hitting during last October's Superstorm Sandy (this is a view of the Stony Creek public waterfront, on its way to being underwater). On May 20, the public is invited to give input on Branford and North Branford areas they feel should be part of a future hazard mitigation plan, during a South Central Regional Council of Governments workshop. Once drafted, the plan will help both towns quickly receive FEMA funding assistance for hazards created by future natural disasters.

Residents of Branford and North Branford are needed to help build a plan to highlight areas prone to frequent flooding, road undermining, or any other nasty fall-out brought on by weather disasters.

Branford Town Engineer Janice Plaziak and North Branford Town Engineer Kurt Weiss encourage public input during a Monday, May 20 workshop, which will help draft hazard mitigation plans for the area.

The input will help the towns to prepare for major infrastructure problems following future storms, flooding, and other natural disasters. Plaziak and Weiss are hoping for a big turnout at the South Central Regional Council of Governments (SCRCOG) public workshop for both towns, to be held at Branford Fire Department, 45 North Main Street, on May 20 from 6 to 8 p.m.

"We want them to share their experiences and they may have some other concerns where they feel we've been vulnerable, and feel we can mitigate the risks with a project or improvement to a plan or another approach?so that we're prepared. It's really an emergency management type of project," said Plaziak.

She noted towns are required by FEMA to have such plans in order to access hazard mitigation funds available following an emergency.

"The funds available are only for projects that have been identified in your plan," Plaziak explained.

Residents, business owners, and town officials are encouraged to participate in the SCRCOG workshop, one of four being held in the region. The SCRCOG region covers approximately 570,000 people, about one-sixth of the state's population.

SCRCOG was awarded a grant from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to develop a Multi-Jurisdiction Hazard Mitigation Plan for Bethany, Branford, Hamden, Madison, North Branford, North Haven, Orange, Wallingford, West Haven, and Woodbridge. The five additional municipalities in the Region (East Haven, Guilford, Meriden, Milford, and New Haven) have completed or are currently working on their own hazard mitigation plans. SCRCOG hired a consulting team led by Jamie Caplan Consulting, LLC, with support from AECOM to develop the Draft Plan.

The purpose of the plan is to reduce the region's vulnerability to natural hazards and provide a comprehensive approach to mitigate potential hazards. Mitigation strategies include planning, policy, regulation change, educational programs, infrastructure projects, and other activities. The adoption and approval of the Multi-Jurisdiction Hazard Mitigation Plan will allow each of the municipalities to be eligible for FEMA mitigation program funding before and after the next disaster strikes, according to a SCRCOG press release.

Further information about SCRCOG and its projects, including the South Central Region Multi-Jurisdiction Hazard Mitigation Plan, can be found at www.scrcog.org.

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