Meeting held for new Craighead Co. mitigation plan

When an ice storm hit Region 8 in 2009, a mitigation plan was in place to direct people how to respond to the natural disaster. That mitigation plan is now out of date. It hasn't been modified since 2004.

A new plan must be put in place or Craighead County could experience some extreme consequences.

A mitigation plan is an outline of what resources the county has available in case of a disaster. FEMA requires a mitigation plan to be in place before it will provide any funding after a disaster occurs.

“Very important to be in place not only for the grant, but the federal response that's going to come in and help us,” Jeff Presley, Jonesboro E911 Director, said.

A mitigation plan prepares the county for possible emergencies. “This 9-1-1 center went down today, what is my next step in getting that up and running,” Presley said.

A county mitigation plan will answer this question. A mitigation plan is also necessary to keep things going around the cities. “Safe rooms, tornado sirens, drainage work, anything that is considered mitigation for your area for your community could be blocked out by this,” Presley said.

What exactly is a mitigation plan? “A mitigation plan is actually the key to all emergency management,” Presley said. “We look at how we will respond to a disaster. What do we have to respond with?”

Presley said the five year plan will lay out details for how to react if something like an ice storm or tornado occurs. He said a document like this must be constantly updated and oversight may be to blame for the plan becoming outdated.

“Sometimes if you're not opening that every month or two, it kind of gets moved to the side,” Presley said. “And that's what happened in this case.”

When asked why people in the community should care about this mitigation plan, Presley said it affects everyone. “This affects our future as a county,” he said. “It affects the mitigation to any kind of man made or natural disaster that may happen in our area.”

City leaders from across Craighead County met Tuesday to lay the foundation for this complex project, and Presley said soon they will be reaching out to the community to find volunteers to get this project complete.

After the plan is drafted, it must be approved by the local, state, and federal levels. Presley suspects the approval process will take 6 months to a year.

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