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Douglas County panel adopts plan to mitigate disaster

Hazard Mitigation Plan assesses risks and develops strategies to minimize losses from natural events.

A car drives through flowing water over County Road L near Bennett during the June flooding. (Telegram file)
A car drives through flowing water over Douglas County Road L near Bennett during the June flooding.
File / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR — Douglas County has a plan to address more than a dozen natural disasters that could impact the area during a given year.

The plan identifies potentially problematic conditions and outlines corrective actions that officials will undertake to remedy identified problems. The county’s hazard mitigation planning committee adopted the plan Monday, July 11, during its final meeting.

The plan must be approved by Wisconsin Emergency Management before it is certified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“I did submit a draft of the plan to Wisconsin Emergency Management about two weeks ago,” said Eric Howell, project manager with Northwest Regional Planning. “I wanted to get their initial feedback on that, and their responses were positive. They looked at the major requirements and said that it looked good so far.”

The plan identifies flooding, tornadoes, thunderstorm winds, wild fires, hailstorms, droughts, winter weather events, excessive heat, coastal hazards, public health, pandemic, landslides and earthquakes as risks the county faces. It also identified strategies to minimize detrimental impacts of each to the economy, life and health.

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Thunderstorm wind, wildfire, lightning, flood and winter weather ranked highest as potential threats in Douglas County.

Howell said he anticipates submitting the final draft and a review tool to determine the accuracy of the information to Wisconsin Emergency Management by no later than Friday, July 15. He said once state emergency management officials determine the plan is satisfactory, he anticipates presenting the plan to the county and village boards for final approval, likely starting in August.

While there is no rush for local jurisdictions to adopt the plan, Howell said he is going to push for that so the plan is active, and FEMA can give final approval.

The plan conforms to local requirements of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, which establishes a pre-disaster hazard mitigation program and requirements for the national Hazard Mitigation Grant program to reduce future disaster losses.

In addition to identifying potential hazards, the plan profiles hazard events, and assesses vulnerabilities by identifying assets, estimating potential losses and analyzing development trends in Douglas County.

Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or snelson@superiortelegram.com.
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