BATTLE GROUND — During their Dec. 19 city council meeting, Battle Ground City Council members voted to approve Resolution No. 16-09, adopting a portion of the Clark County Hazard Mitigation Plan that involves the city of Battle Ground.
Council members first received a full presentation on the Hazard Mitigation Plan during their Dec. 5 meeting, which was presented by Battle Ground Public Works Director Scott Sawyer and Anthony Vendetti, Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA) emergency management coordinator.
According to information presented by Sawyer and Vendetti, in July of 2015 CRESA formed a regional, 17-member partnership made up of Clark County, its cities and its special-purpose districts. The partners took on a planning process to prepare for and lessen the impacts of natural hazards by completely revising and updating the Clark Regional Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan.
The result of this effort will be a FEMA and Washington State Emergency Management Agency approved multi-jurisdictional, multi-hazard mitigation plan that meets federal mandates of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, and establishes eligibility for hazard mitigation project funding under the unified hazard mitigation assistance grant program.
“All communities experience loss from different natural hazard events, for example the tornado (Battle Ground experienced),” Sawyer said during the Dec. 5 meeting. “Local, state and federal resources are often spent on recovery costs related to hazard events. CRESA has done a great job of getting all the communities together and teaching us what we need to know.”
According to the information presented to council, the term “hazard mitigation” refers to “actions that reduce or eliminate long-term risks caused by hazards such as earthquakes, floods, storms and wildfires. It involves strategies such as planning, policy changes, programs, projects and other activities that can mitigate the impacts of hazards.”
“Mitigation is taking steps to ensure a reduction or elimination of long-term risks,” Vendetti told council members on Dec. 5. “It’s the steps you take before an event or disaster happens, but also the steps you take during and after to strengthen your community.”
Without an investment in hazard mitigation, repeated disasters can result in repeated damage and rebuilding. This constant repeat of reconstruction becomes more expensive as the years go by. Hazard mitigation aims to break this costly cycle of damage and reconstruction by taking a long-term view of rebuilding and recovering from disasters.
The risk assessment in the hazard mitigation plan addresses the following hazards of concern within Clark County:
- Dam failure
- Severe weather
A hazard mitigation working group has been established that will convene quarterly over the next five years in order to evaluate and assess the plan.
Each planning partner involved in the county hazard mitigation plan (municipalities and special-purpose districts) were able to rank hazards for their own specific area. The results indicated some general patterns, including that the earthquake and severe weather hazards were most commonly ranked as high; the flood and landslide hazards were most commonly ranked as medium; and the dam failure, drought, volcano and wildfire hazards were most commonly ranked as low.
Information presented to the council also included a list of past occurrences of natural hazards within the city of Battle Ground. These included:
- Tornado, Dec. 10, 2015, preliminary damage assessment of $23,970
- Severe winter storm and record/near record snow, Dec. 12, 2008, preliminary damage assessment unknown
- Severe winter storm, landslides and mudslides, Dec. 14, 2006, preliminary damage assessment unknown
- Earthquake, Feb. 28, 2001, preliminary damage assessment unknown
- Tornado, May 11, 2000, preliminary damage assessment of $11,392
- Storms, high winds, floods, Nov. 7, 1995, preliminary damage assessment unknown
- Lightening, July 13, 1993, preliminary damage assessment of $819
- Volcanic eruption (Mount St. Helens), May 21, 1980, preliminary damage assessment unknown
- Tornado, October 1951, preliminary damage assessment unknown
Other noted vulnerabilities for the city of Battle Ground noted in the Dec. 5 presentation included that the city’s main water line, which replenishes the city’s water shortage reservoirs, crosses in the vicinity of potential landslide territory; Battle Ground City Hall currently does not have a backup generator and provides the main internet and servers to the police station; water wells 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 do not have backup generators; the Battle Ground Community Center would likely serve as a public shelter after a major event and does not have a backup generator.
These vulnerabilities are all things that will be addressed as a part of the hazard mitigation plan. Since adopting this resolution, the city is now eligible to apply for hazard mitigation project funding under the unified hazard mitigation assistance program, which provides pre- and post-disaster grant opportunities.
More information on CRESA’s Hazard Mitigation Planning Project can be found by visiting http://cresa911.org/emergency-management/mitigation/.