By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – It’s official.
Canadian County’s new natural hazard mitigation plan is now in effect.
Canadian County Commissioners have approved a resolution finalizing this much-anticipated document.
The Federal Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 requires Canadian County to update the plan every five years, so its communities remain eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) non-emergency, hazard mitigation grants.
Commissioners in late July approved Canadian County’s revised hazard mitigation plan – designed to reduce loss of life and property before a disaster occurs.
Municipalities and school districts across Canadian County now have all approved resolutions adopting the hazard mitigation plan for 2021-26.
“We were waiting on all the various jurisdictions to adopt the plan and also give them time to review the plan if they needed to make any changes,” Canadian County Emergency Management Director Andrew Skidmore said.
Hazard mitigation plans “are key to breaking the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction and repeated damage,” according to FEMA officials.
“Canadian County’s local unit of government has afforded the citizens the opportunity to comment and provide input on the plan,” said Canadian County Commission Chairman Jack Stewart, reading from the resolution.
“Canadian County Commissioners have reviewed the plan and affirm that the plan will be updated no less than every five years.”
With guidance from L.E. Marshall Consulting, Canadian County Emergency Management and local jurisdictions joined forces to review and update the county’s multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plan.
As part of the process, Skidmore in fall 2020 solicited feedback from municipal and school officials across Canadian County. It took a year of planning and another year to write the new plan.
Canadian County’s multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plan reduces the potential loss from natural hazards and is a living document that requires adjustments to maintain its relevance and remain a useful tool and resource, Skidmore explained.
“Mitigation is not how we respond to emergencies like floods, tornadoes and wildfires, but rather how we as a community might lessen or even prevent the impact of such incidents before they occur,” he said.
“The mitigation planning process involves identifying and profiling the natural hazards most likely to occur in a community, assessing the vulnerability to these hazards, and establishing goals and actions that mitigate the associated risks.”
When Skidmore became Canadian County’s emergency manager in September 2018, he said the county’s hazard mitigation plan “already was a year out of compliance.”