Planning ahead and creating a Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan is the purpose for a series of meetings being held by the City of Miami.
Hazard Mitigation Specialists along with Miami's Emergency Manager, Glenda Longan are working with citizen's input to help the city to be prepared to create and implement the plan in the event of natural disasters. A second meeting was held this week with approximately 25 city officials, business leaders, and citizens in attendance.
Hazard Mitigation Specialist, David Van Nostrand, told those gathered that to be eligible for grants the city must have a current plan. Once approved by Oklahoma Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency the plan will be good for these purposes for five years.
The plan will cover Miami, Miami Public Schools and NEO A & M College and help reduce the effects of natural hazards on the community.
The Hazard Mitigation Specialists will also help monitor the implementation and progression of the city's plan.
“Here's how we'll get this done with the coordination and cooperation and involving the public. We need others to participate. We'd like to have as many as we can to come here to participate,” he said.
Van Nostrand identified the hazards that threaten Oklahoma and specifically Miami; dam failure, drought, earthquakes, extreme heat, flooding, hail storms, high winds, lightning, sink holes, wild fires, winter storms and tornados.
According to Van Nostrand from 1875 to 2011 there were 34 tornados in Ottawa County, 12 of those in Miami.
He said the goals of the plan are the protection of life and property, to reduce damages, maintain municipal and emergency services, protect health, and to improve protection from hail and high winds.
Some of the projects Van Nostrand listed toward these goals are school and individual safe rooms, generators, warning sirens, lightning detectors and bridge work.
Judy Soos, Natural Mitigation Specialist then went over FEMA's regulations that spell out the requirement of identifying the city's critical facilities and their vulnerabilities.
She said, “Public input is important to the process of creating a plan and identifying critical facilities.”
Soos listed five types of facilities that are prioritized; emergency response, governmental, health care providers, resources, infrastructure and transport. She asked for input from those present in identifying these types of facilities in Miami.
Stressing the importance of keeping the city running in the wake of natural disasters, Soos said it was vital to have alternative plans in place ahead of time.
The next meeting of the planning team is scheduled for April 11 at 9 a.m. at the Miami Civic Center Banquet Room.