Lufkin city officials approve update to hazard mitigation action plan

Lufkin city officials approve update to hazard mitigation action plan

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Lufkin’s city council has voted to approve an update to the city’s hazard mitigation action plan.

Hazard mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters, according to FEMA. The City of Lufkin’s plan will serve as a guiding document for emergency management officials, city officials, and the general public with the goal of preventing or reducing future impacts from natural hazards.

“We moved to a public safety model to the middle of last year. and the main focus on that public safety model is to get our police, fire, and EMS services to work together more closely and to respond quicker to incidents,” said Gerald Williamson, director of public safety.

According to FEMA, developing hazard mitigation plans enables state, tribal, and local governments to:

  • Increase education and awareness around threats, hazards, and vulnerabilities;
  • Build partnerships for risk reduction involving government, organizations, businesses, and the public;
  • Identify long-term, broadly-supported strategies for risk reduction;
  • Align risk reduction with other state, tribal, or community objectives;
  • Identify implementation approaches that focus resources on the greatest risks and vulnerabilities; and
  • Communicate priorities to potential sources of funding.

A hazard mitigation is required by FEMA to be updated every five years for the county to receive federal funding if a natural disaster occurs. Assistant city manager Jason Arnold said the first steps to develop the plan will soon get underway.

“We’re going to identify all of those potential hazards, and we’re talking anything from wildfires to straight-line winds, to active attackers and hurricanes, and everything in between,” said Arnold. “We’re going to identify those hazards, look at those we can prevent and those we can’t prevent.”

The plan also involves setting up a chain of command for who would be involved in each response. City officials examine each event, one by one, until they’re satisfied with the response and compare with it past response plans.

“Hopefully, we won’t ever have to utilize those skills, but the training that’s behind that is to get our first responders in to an event quicker,” said Williamson.

The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 requires proactive, pre-disaster planning as a prerequisite for some funding, and encourages state and local authorities to work together on pre-disaster planning. Hazard mitigation is the use of long- and short-term strategies to reduce or alleviate the loss of life, personal injury and property damage that can result from a disaster. It involves strategies such as planning, policy changes, programs, projects and other activities that can mitigate the impacts of hazards.

Arnold said it is impossible to predict exactly when and where disasters will occur or the extent to which they will impact an area. However, he added that with careful planning and collaboration among public agencies, stakeholders, and citizens, it is possible to minimize losses that disasters can cause.

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