The Saratoga Sun -

County to revise hazard plan

Attendance poor at public meeting in Saratoga


Only two members of the general public attended an open meeting for the revision of the Carbon County Hazard Mitigation Plan.

The meeting was hosted by Emergency Management Coordinator John Zieger and consultant Barb Beck. Town Engineer Chuck Bartlett and Town Clerk Suzie Cox were also on hand for the meeting. No members of the incoming Saratoga town council or other municipal government representatives were present at the meeting.

Beck led the meeting and asked questions of the two attendees while Zeiger provided clarification when needed. Public meetings which allow for comments are a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requirement.

Beck said the revision process of the multi-hazard mitigation plan will look at natural disasters and hazardous materials accidents the county has experienced in the past. Based on those data, the plan will attempt to predict what emergency management needs the county may face.

One main reason for the plan, as pointed out by Zeiger, is FEMA requires such a plan to be in place in order to qualify for federal grants, such as disaster relief.

Another reason is for the municipalities and the county to have an understanding of how much they can handle during an emergency. "Not everybody likes to invite the federal government to come to their town or their county, but one of the benefits of having this plan, or the reason to do it is ... 'OK we locally have had the conversation ahead of time of what we might be able to do to help ourselves, and then if we still have a problem that exceeds the resources of the town, and the county, and the state then you all can ask FEMA to come in and help out,'" Beck said.

According to Zeiger the update of the plan costs the town of Saratoga nothing as it is Carbon County's responsibility. Zeiger said he acquired a grant that will pay for 75 percent of the process and the county will pay for the rest. Beck is responsible for re-writing the plan and is under Zeiger's supervision.

The multi-hazard mitigation plan covers the county and 10 municipalities within the county.

Beck said that major contributors of technical knowledge and expertise include local emergency planning committees and an engineering firm which will help quantify data from past emergencies and disasters and make predictions about future incidents.

A draft of the mitigation plan will be made available for public comment before it is submitted to the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security for their review. Homeland security should have a draft to review this spring. After the homeland security review FEMA reviews the document and then the county can choose to adopt.

Erik Gantt

Barb Beck, of Beck Consulting, led the hazard mitigation plan meeting.

Hazards currently being considered in the mitigation plan include: dam failure, drought, earthquakes, expansive soils, flooding, hail, hazardous materials, landslide/land subsidence, lightning, winter storms, tornadoes, wind blown deposits, wind storms, wildland fire and volcanic eruption in Yellowstone National Park.

Specific hazards that Beck said could be addressed by the plan include flooding of the North Platte River and possible hazards in the beetle-killed forest. The proposed river restoration project was also discussed, but Zeiger noted that the reduction of flood height from the project is expected to be minimal.

While there was little community participation at the meeting, Zeiger said community involvement in the process will hopefully kick in when the draft plan is available.


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