The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

County's Eleven Jurisdictions To Plan Natural Hazard Plan

In the county Health Department's meeting room in Gladstone, a newly formed Steering Committee made its first steps in responding to the state's request to develop a natural disaster response plan for Henderson County.

The meeting, held after the county's board meeting July 14, had volunteers coming from various jurisdictions around the county who will design what is called the Henderson County Multi-Jurisdictional Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan.

County Board Chair Marty Lafary explains, it is a hazard mitigation plan that could be very important in helping reduce the damage and hardships in Henderson County, not only from the effects of floods, but also from tornadoes, severe storms, and other natural disasters as well.

Also, there are major dollars available if the county could work together to meet some basic requirements. The first requirement is representation from each of the jurisdictions.

Of the eleven townships in the county, five were not represented: Gladstone, Lomax, Media, Raritan and Stronghurst. At least one volunteer from each area are really needed to be a part of this process.

The IEMA representative stressed that there is plenty of funding set aside for this endeavor, and numerous ways to approach acquiring the resources for realistic projects.

One of the first initiatives is opening the doors for suggestions from every interested person in Henderson County.

Questionnaires are planned, and ideas for getting them to every household.

Three public meeting times to gain input was tentatively set to be held in Gladstone, Oquawka, and Stronghurst as follows:

Gladstone - County Health Dept. gym - Tuesday, Sept. 8th - 6 p.m.

Oquawka Courthouse - Friday, Sept.18th - 6 p.m.

Stronghurst Middle School - Friday, Sept. 25th - 6 p.m.

According to Carrie McKillip, the Steering Committee will continue to develop ideas at monthly meetings and participants are required to attend 50% or more of the meetings.

A Risk Assessment meeting is scheduled for the Steering Committee meeting Tuesday, August 11th, with the place and time not nailed down as yet.

We want to plan four aggressive meetings so we can wrap things up by December, McKillip said.

Lisa Grafton, Topographer for this project explained how mapping and graphing can help this project.

Using past records they can actually estimate natural hazards such as floods and earthquakes although she admits she doesn't have statistics for tornados. Possibly they will in the future using GIS technology.

She said they can actually overlay data base on maps and determine the percentage of damage and the impact on infrastructure in each jurisdiction in the county.

She can include direct damage to police, fire, hospitals, etc. and she can also calculate an estimation of the debris generated by each disaster and the costs of removing it.

Grafton also said she is able to calculate things such as shelters needed, economic losses by interruption of businesses due to road closures and the like.

"A lot of time in mitigation planning you can find out whatever is most important to you and come up with a cost ratio," Grafton explained.

For instance, if you spend this much money buying out homes, what would the benefit be. She explained how each jurisdiction might be different for instance those inland might not be as great a risk for flooding as along the Mississippi River and she said by using studies already done by the Corp of Engineers and using Flood Insurance Rate Maps information can be gained to decide the need for a 50 year, 100 year, or 500 year levee.

Data can be used from the 2000 census and the hazard and population data can be used to help find the population at risk as well as cost ratio benefit.

The need for storm shelters, buildings that are wind and/or flood safe, etc.

Anything that came after the 2000 census will need to be updated and corrected by those in attendance verifying the data and maps - buildings that have been added or torn down.

Data collection is very time consuming and having much information already in place can be of great help. They would have such things as dam and levee locations, historical storms and droughts.

"FEMA has a data base, but we want your input to see if it is accurate in each of your jurisdictions," she said.

Will these funds expire? Mitigation receives 15% of all funding from each federal state wide hazard and Illinois has had a plenty, an IEMA rep. said

Don't worry about funding source - there is always a disaster pot to fund these plans.

Prioritize each plan for your jurisdiction - you are not in competition with each other. You will come up with a county-wide plan although Gulfport might have different risks than Biggsville or Raritan and your projects may be different. Each of you can apply for a grant. We can apply for 15 different grants if we need to.

What is needed for the county to be eligible for the plan is for someone dependable to attend the meetings from each incorporated jurisdiction to - Gladstone - Lomax, - Media - Raritan - Stronghurst.

"The more people you have join the easier it is to make your match of 25%," they said.

McKillip said they will be setting up FOCUS GROUPS -to discuss:

A list of all natural hazards over the past floods including tornados will be sought and it was discussed how droughts are a problem for Gladstone as it causes more concentration in nitrates as water goes down - its a high risk for them.

The Steering Committee will meet again on Sept. 8th, to continue finding the risks that Henderson County faces and what the highest priority risks are. Info: McKillip@Illinois.Edu.