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Hazard mitigation projects discussed, scored

By Staff | Jan 26, 2018

The last meeting at the local level for making updates to Pierce County’s multi-hazard mitigation plan was held last week at the Fire Hall in Rugby.

Daniel Schwartz, a planner with Mid-America Planning & Consulting LLC, met with attendees to score several mitigation projects for both the city and the county.

Schwartz said the goal of the meeting was to improve education & outreach, planning & regulatory and administrative & technical capabilities and resiliency of critical facilities and infrastructure, and also to reduce the impacts of and provide refuge and early warning for various hazards.

Meeting attendees scored projects using STAPLEE criteria, scoring projects from 1 to 5 in social (community acceptance and effects on a segment of the population), technical (feasibility, long-term solution, secondary impacts), administrative (staff, operations, allocated funds), political (political and public support, local proponent) legal (state and local authority, subjectivity to legal challenges), economic (benefit of action, contribution to economic goals, requirement of outside funds) and environmental (effects on land, water, endangered species, hazardous material and waste sites and whether consistent with federal and environmental regulations) factors.

A score of 1 in a particular area meant the project would have a negative impact and /or be too costly. A score of 5 meant the project would have a positive impact and benefits would outweigh the costs. A total score on projects could range from 7 to 35 out of a possible 35.

Twenty-one projects for the county and two projects for the city of Rugby were scored. Projects for the county were divided into administrative & technical, education & outreach, financial, planning & regulatory and infrastructure.

Five county projects which included creating a post-disaster debris management plan; making the public aware of infrastructure or critical material shortages or outages; increasing awareness of drought-tolerant practices and soil conservation; and establishing maintenance systems for storm water systems to reduce or eliminate the occurrence of overland flooding received 35 out of 35 points.

Assure continued monitoring of Balta Dam and other dams in the county; conduct education & outreach to improve household disaster preparedness; and increase awareness of methods for preventing communicable diseases each received the second-highest score of 34 out of 35.

Upgrade and expand outdoor early warning systems; upgrade existing or purchase new equipment and infrastructure for emergency services; identify and develop locations for living snow fences; encourage jurisdictions to review local flood ordinances to meet or exceed state and federal requirements; and enroll the city of Balta in the National Flood Insurance Program each scored the third highest at 33 out of 35.

Adopting and enforcing building codes the second of seven administrative & technical projects for the county received the lowest score of all county projects at 20 out of 35. Emergency Manager and Planning & Zoning Administrator Kelsey Siegler said she would “hate to see” the project get scored high only for there to be no movement on it later. County Commissioner Rick Larson said there isn’t enough building going on in the county to justify having codes.

The next lowest scoring project for the county was retrofit and upgrade bridges and culverts and raise road grades, which scored 28 out of 35.

For the city of Rugby, expand & improve existing and implement new financial mitigation capabilities scored the highest of the two projects at 29 out of 35.

Dredging the Wentz Canal scored the lowest of the two, at 24 out of 35.

A draft of the plan will go through a 30-day public review process, followed by a public hearing, and it will be submitted to both the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the N.D. Department of Emergency Services.

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