Emergency plan gets an update

DALLAS -- The City Council has adopted an updated version of its portion of the countywide hazard mitigation plan.

DALLAS -- The City Council has adopted an updated version of its portion of the countywide hazard mitigation plan.

Approval of the plan opens opportunities for the city to apply for grants for disaster mitigation upgrades.

This current version updates the plan the city adopted in 2005.

In addition to being a prerequisite for grant qualification, the plan will help rescue and relief agencies better respond to where help is needed sooner.

"It helped us identify what the likely emergency scenarios would be and the potential severity," Community Development Director Jason Locke said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency began emphasizing assessing local preparedness after disorganized responses delayed recovery efforts during several disaster situations in the last decade, Locke said. Now, four years after the first plan was approved, FEMA had each municipality in Polk County review and update plans at the same time.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners adopted the county's portion of the plan in late August. FEMA signs off on the segments as each jurisdiction adopts their part of the plan.

Polk County Planning Director Austin McGuigan said the countywide plan consists of an overview about potential natural disasters or emergency situations likely to affect Polk County. Plans specific to cities and areas under county jurisdiction are included as appendices.

During the update, which started in 2008, each city of Dallas department was given appropriate pieces of the plan, such as the police department assessing the risk and response to terrorism and the fire department addressing wildland fire issues.

All work was paid for with a FEMA grant.

The plan accesses floods, winter storms, landslides, wildland fires, earthquakes, volcanoes, wind, erosion, expansive soils, dam failures and hazardous material incidents.

Moving forward, city departments will address plan objectives on an ongoing basis. The plan will go through another comprehensive review every five years.

Before the 2009 updates, the county and cities were on different review timelines. McGuigan said the county was asked to update its plan again along with the cities in order to have the entire county on the same page.

"It's just more efficient to combine them and have every one do it at the same time," McGuigan said.


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