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County hazard plan: rising sea levels, landslides?

(Oct. 10, 2014) While reading any hazard report with a nonzero entry for risk of landslide on the peninsula can give one pause, the rest of the updates to 2006’s hazard mitigation plan pleased officials enough to move it along in the approval process.

Widespread distribution is the next step, with the full text being made available to other municipalities under the plan’s sphere of influence, the public and the scheduling of a public hearing on the topic within council chambers.

From there, the municipalities will have to approve the draft plan before it comes back to the commissioners for approval. After all that, the plan goes back to FEMA for its approval. FEMA endorsed the preliminary draft of the plan unaffected by recent changes in March.

Commissioners Bunting and Shockley were reported to have a few issues with the draft previously introduced in April, and changes have been made in this latest draft to address those concerns.

The main points of distinction between the plan as reported in supporting documents to the commissioners include:

• The 2014 plan addresses the National Flood Insurance program, although new FEMA floodplain maps were not included because the maps are still under review.

• At-risk populations were identified rather than just identifying vulnerable land.

• Facilities identified as “critical” by communities are identified on maps geographically.

• Updated storm data since 2006 has been included.

• The historical significance of past storms is used to underline how vulnerable Worcester County is to flooding.

• Dangers of rising sea levels are underscored with newer data.

• Mitigation strategies have been enhanced with goals, objectives and action items.

• Some items are highlighted to qualify for credit under the Community Rating system, which may affect insurance rates in the region.

There is, at least according to the hazard report, some risk of a landslide taking place somewhere, sometime. As to where that might be, apparently no one would hazard a guess.

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