What would happen if a natural disaster, something like Florida Gulf Coast residents are experincing from Hurricane Michael, struck Highland County? That will be the topic of discussion when the Highland County Emergency Management Agency (HCEMA) holds a public meeting Nov. 1 at the Highland County Administration Building in Hillsboro.
Dave Bushelman, HCEMA director, said the organization is conducting a five-year update to its Highland County All Hazard National Mitigation Plan.
He said that while the 2 p.m. Nov. 1 meeting in the Administration Building basement conference room is primarily geared toward the 20 or so members on the mitigation plan committee who will be developing the basics of the plan, it is open to the public. There will be a Dec. 3 meeting geared more toward public partipation, plus more later meetings that have not yet been scheduled.
“These plans are intended to identify hazards that pose a genuine risk to property and life, and to identify solutions which will mitigate the impacts of natural disasters — flooding, high winds, severe winter or summer storms, earthquakes, etc.,” Bushelman said in a news release. “For a county, or any of its local jurisdictions, to qualify for any federal disaster recovery or mitigation assistance, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requires communities to update their Hazard Mitigation Plans every five years.”
He said the county received a 75/25 matching federal grant to fund the study, with the government providing the 75 percent, or $12,200. He said a large part of that money is being used to hire a contractor to oversee the plan.
“If we don’t have a plan in place, we can’t receive any federal relief funds,” Bushelman said.
He said that Highland County has not needed disaster relief funds for several years, and that the last time the county received any was likely during the 2004 ice storm shortly before Christmas.
For more information, contact Bushelman at [email protected] or at 937-393-5880.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.