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County seeks reduction in disaster risks

Taking proactive steps to lessen the impact of natural disasters is the goal of a new plan drafted by the county.
The public will have a chance to comment on the Hazard Mitigation plan at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the Commissioners Room of the James W. Warren Citizens Center.
Recent moves at federal and state levels have established new requirements for local governments regarding mitigation planning, said Kelly Atkins, director of Building and Land Development. Counties must meet those requirements in order to be eligible for hazard mitigation funding.
“The ultimate goal with the hazard mitigation ordinance is to mitigate prior to a natural disaster,” Atkins said.
For residents, it means more education.
For example, a resident wants to build a house, but their property is in a flood zone. When they apply for permits, Building and Land staff will educate them about the land and what could happen in the event of a natural disaster.
They would encourage the resident to locate the home elsewhere, Atkins said. If the resident were determined to build there, staff members would tell the resident how to specially engineer the home to make it flood proof.
There are certain structures already located in flood plains in Lincoln County, Atkins said. A future goal of the plan would be to educate those owners and come up with a recommendation of how to handle the situation.
The plan comes as greater emphasis is being placed on local mitigation planning on both state and federal levels, Atkins said.
“With planning requirements tied to mitigation and public assistance funding, the sense of urgency is growing throughout our state to complete the task of developing plans that not only meet minimum criteria but work toward reducing our vulnerability to natural hazards,” Atkins said.
The county’s Hazard Mitigation Committee was formed by the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners to oversee the creation of the plan.
It was adopted by the county in November 2003 and approved by the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management in December. Due to more stringent federal requirements, the plan has to be reworked and amended.Information gathered from Wednesday’s public meeting will go into the new plan. Another public hearing will likely take place in October.by Alice Smith

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