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Mommouth County Municipalities Begin Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan [AUDIO]

Fifty three towns within Monmouth County are all collaborating simultaneously to create this year’s Multi-Jurisdictional Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Damage from Hurricane Irene
Damage from Hurricane Irene (Flickr User emilydickinsonridesabmx)

The plan, which was last updated in 2009, sets up the what actions municipalities county can take in order to safeguard themselves against a plethora of hazards from hurricanes to inland flooding. The final draft of the plan is approved by FEMA which uses the strategy to dole out funding for the various projects.

The kickoff meeting for the 2012 plan started Tuesday July 31st at the Monmouth County Fire Academy, where County Office of Emergency Management Director Michael Oppengaard briefed the dozens of municipalities in attendance.

With over fifty different municipalities participating in the plan, in addition to the County needing to establish its protocols, one of the main issues lies in creating a system in which the suggestions can be submitted.

Like in 2009, the county is hiring a third party contractor to create a web portal, which participants can then submit their information to, and a draft of the plan will be compiled for review by the County, then the state, before ultimately getting to the desk of FEMA.

“As we continue to go along we will be reviewing all that stuff so we don’t have to read this giant three size phone book plan at the end so we’ll have that all done,” says Oppengaard.

Under the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, every jurisdiction in the state is required to have a mitigation plan, however Monmouth County’s decision to do the plan in a multi jurisdictional fashion, rather than let every municipality submit its own plan to the state, is a decision that sacrifices ease for a larger ultimate payout from FEMA.

“Doing it in a multi jurisdictional way] does add a little more to the workload upfront and then for us,” acknowledges Oppengaard, “but with the dollars and cents that are out there and the money that we got for this as we did in the last round, it just makes better sense to do it that way.”

Neptune Township CFO and OEM coordinator Michael Bascom spoke during the presentation on Tuesday, talking about the success Neptune had with the some of the mitigation projects in the past thanks to the plan.

The city constructed bulk heads and flood valves at the entrance of outflow pipes at the Shark River section, which helped reduce flooding which plagued them roughly thirty days out of the year.

The 675,000 dollar project had 508,000 funded by FEMA grants, and Bascom notes even though it’s not a hundred percent complete, there’s still noticeable improvements.

“It’s greatly reduced flooding in that area already.”

Bascom says while the County’s plan encompasses all of the municipalities, Neptune, like every other municipality has to consider their own natural hazards when submitting their portion.

So what is on Neptune’s list of concerns?

“Flooding is the number one problem.” Says Bascom “Flooding is a repetitious problem, we’re a community that’s surrounded on multiple sides by water, the Atlantic Ocean, shark river, and we have multiple lakes.”

Once the final draft of the plan is complete, it will be open to the public for review.

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