By Jamie Spainhower
Adams County Record Editor
After almost two years of work, Adams and Hettinger Counties are almost ready for almost any imaginable scenario of disaster – either man-made or with whatever Mother Nature may throw at them.
Published February 14, 2014
The counties have been working on a joint pre-mitigation disaster plan, which is required by FEMA to qualify for any kind of funding it provides after a disaster, or grants for mitigation to try to alleviate or reduce the impact of an event or natural disaster on a community.
Gene Buresh of Roosevelt Custer has been working with the counties to prepare the more than 200-page document.
“We decided to pull the two counties together and do a joint plan,” he said. “It will include both counties, plus the incorporated cities in them.”
For Adams County that includes Bucyrus, Hettinger, Reeder and Haynes. In Hettinger County it will be Mott, Regent and New England.
“A plan is good for 10 years, and is a work in progress, that should be reviewed annually to make sure it is meeting the needs of the entities,” he said.
The first step was gathering information of all kinds about the counties, including population, housing, businesses and demographics.
“This information came from the most current Census, 2010,” he explained.
Livestock, agriculture land, equipment and other things outside the city limits are also included.
“FEMA doesn’t just cover disasters that occur within the city limits,” he said.
Gathering documentation of past history is the next step and includes incidents past and planning for anything possible in the future.
Summer storms, which include thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail and flooding; winter storms such as blizzards, and communicable disease are examples of natural hazards, as are wild land fires and droughts. Each incident is documented with specifics, such as duration of a storm, how much rain fell, hail size and duration, damage done and any flooding occurring from the incident.
“Flooding doesn’t have to occur in town. Again, if it happens in pasturelands or fields, or overruns creeks it is still included,” said Buresh.
Then the information is gathered and reviewed so it can be used to make projections on possible expectations of future similar events, and the costs involved in putting things to rights.
“It also includes man-made incidents such as hazmat incidents, which can range from one gallon of oil spilled in the wrong place to a train derailment,” he said.
When working up the plan, it takes into consideration not only the actual dollar value of the replacement of the item that was destroyed, but also how it affected the entire picture.
“If there is an extended snowstorm, for example, it affects the area in many ways,” he said. Economically, with work loss due to closed businesses, which can happen because of power outages. Grocery stores don’t carry the extended inventories they have in the past, he explained, so they may run out of food or other necessities needed.
A school closure due to weather interrupts children’s education and sometimes the parent’s ability to go to work. Communication could go down and hinder emergency services.
One thing can lead to another and affect residents in ways not usually considered.
“That’s one reason we gather so much historical information, and try to make sure everything possible is included, because if it isn’t included in the plan, then FEMA won’t cover it,” Buresh said.
The document will be checked over for any mistakes, and will meet in Mott Thursday to have the final meeting for Hettinger County. It will then be sent to Bismarck to be reviewed, then it’s final destination of the FEMA office in Denver for final approval.
Once approved, it will be valid until 2019.