July 13, 2011


Hazard mitigation plan nears approval

FEMA required plan allows county, municipalities to receive federal aid for projects

Staff Reporter

The plan that would allow Cortland County and local municipalities to receive federal funding for projects to protect public infrastructure from natural disasters is one step away from federal approval, officials learned Tuesday.
Emergency officials explained the status of funding at the county Judiciary and Public Safety Committee meeting.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will approve the county Hazard Mitigation Plan pending each municipalities’ adoption of it, said county Fire and Emergency Management Assistant Coordinator Brenda DeRusso.
DeRusso expects the plan to receive federal approval by September.
First each municipality and the county must adopt it. DeRusso will send a resolution to each town supervisor and the county to pass at meetings next month. Once these are passed, DeRusso will send a copy of the resolutions and meeting minutes to FEMA, where the plan will automatically be approved upon receipt, she said.
In Cortland County, all municipalities participated in the plan.
Passage of the plan will mean different things for each municipality. The city of Cortland, for example, will likely receive $140,000 for the proposed detention basin in the city waterworks area.
City Public Works Superintendent Chris Bistocchi said he is confident the city will receive the full $140,000, which would cover the entire project. The berm will provide 34 acre-feet of water storage to address flooding in the Otter Creek flood plain. Bistocchi expects the project to begin by July 2012 if the hazard mitigation plan is approved in September.
Even if the plan misses the September deadline, Bistocchi said there will be other chances in December and April 2012.
Once the plan is approved, DeRusso said, Highway Superintendent Don Chambers will study which areas of the county would benefit from mitigation projects that would protect against future damages.
“So we are not going back and redoing the same things over and over every time we have an event,” DeRusso said.
The requirement to enact a hazard mitigation plan is recent, as of 2007, and then FEMA made it a national criteria that all municipalities come up with hazard mitigation plans to minimize hazards for future events.
“The whole premise is, they don’t want us to continue to be repetitive customers so the more we can do on our end to minimize things for future events, the less likely we will need federal support,” she said.
The county has received $5,801,886 in federal disaster funds to pay for damages from four federal disasters from 1996 to 2009, DeRusso said.


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