Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

The Morris County Office of Emergency Management is seeking the public’s assistance in its development of a comprehensive countywide hazard mitigation plan.

The completed plan will include a risk assessment and a hazard-mitigation strategy that will identify hazard mitigation projects that can reduce the risk of loss of life, injury and property damage from future natural and manmade disasters.

According to the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders, creation of this plan will allow the county and the participating municipalities to be eligible for future mitigation funding from FEMA.

As part of this project, residents of the 39 towns in the county are being asked to participate in the planning process by completing an on-line survey that will provide the municipal mitigation planning group with detailed information concerning current and/or potential natural hazards in the community.

The survey may be accessed by visiting the Office of Emergency Management Web site, WWW.MORRISOEM.ORG. In addition, the link to the survey has been provided to all municipal Web sites.

Once submitted, all information will be used for official planning purposes only and will remain with the mitigation planning group.

The plan will identify and lay the ground work for implementing hazard mitigation projects, including those that are eligible for federal funding and those that may not qualify for federal funds but are of clear value to local communities.

Additionally, this plan will identify mechanisms for integrating hazard mitigation into other related planning efforts.

The primary natural hazard in Morris County is flooding, but other potential hazards such as drought, extreme cold, extreme heat, snow, ice, hail, windstorms and tornadoes will be included in the planning process.

The vulnerability to various natural hazards will be determined based on existing and future buildings, infrastructure and critical facilities that might be impacted. Critical facilities include shelters and hospitals; infrastructure includes power-generation facilities, water utilities, roadways, railroads and communication systems.

The risk assessment will identify hazards that may impact the county and municipalities; profile the relevant hazards and their potential consequences; identify assets that are subject to losses or damage, including physical structures, functions and populations; and estimate the potential losses that could result from each type of hazard.

Following the risk assessment, the county will develop a hazard mitigation strategy that will include the identification of hazard mitigation goals as well as a prioritized list of actions designed to reduce losses.

Information about the Morris County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazards Mitigation Plan will be posted on the Office of Emergency Web site, WWW.MORRISOEM.ORG.