The River COG has, as of December 3, 2014, completed the updates of ALL Natural Hazard Plans for the seventeen member towns of the region. The most recent and final approval for the Town of East Haddam brings a close to the almost seven year process to update the NHMP for the nine former CRERPA region towns and the establishment of the initial NHMP for the eight former Midstate region towns.
As the agent of FEMA in the State of Connecticut, the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is responsible for seeing that each of the 169 municipalities in the state have a Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan adopted. Unlike a Local Emergency Operations Plan, which prescribes how a town reacts to emergencies, the preparation of a NHMP results in the town planning and preparing for natural disasters before they occur. In addition, adoption of a FEMA-approved NHMP results in eligibility for grants to perform natural hazard mitigation projects listed in the Plan. These two benefits are reason enough for a town to adopt these important Plans.
Despite the value of these Plans, ten years ago very few municipalities had adopted NHMPs. As a result, the CT DEP turned to River COG predescessor CRERPA and asked if they could prepare a regional plan for CRERPA's nine member towns, which they did. Being so successful, this new approach of Plan preparation and adoption was carried forth to the other fourteen regional organizations in the state and is now the preferred method of NHMP preparation.
In the lower Connecticut River area, impacts of natural hazards center mostly upon the effects of tropical storms, winter storms and the wind, snow and rain that they produce. Although the NHMPs include planning for less common hazards like forest fires, earthquakes and tsunamis, most focus is on the aforementioned events. Mitigation planning includes providing incentives for elevation of structures that are vulnerable to coastal and riverine flooding, the elevation of roads, especially in flood-prone areas and in areas where evacuation centers exist, planning for evacuation routes away from the coast, planning for pet evacuation and other issues. Each town adopts a list of the kind of mitigation projects that will assist their citizens in times of emergency in order to be eligible for federal grants. Funding for those grants is provided, in large part, from the federal funds that become available as a result of federally-declared disasters.
FEMA Approval Letters