North Valley Eyes Storm Preparedness
Counties Apply For FEMA Funds To Bolster Natural Disaster Resources
NEW MARKET — Federal funds may soon be available to bolster natural disaster resources for five northern Shenandoah Valley counties, including Shenandoah and Page.
Jill Keihn, natural resources program director for the Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission, presented details of the hazard mitigation plan to New Market Town Council on Monday.
The regional body, which is preparing the application materials, is a planning agency that serves Shenandoah, Page, Clarke, Frederick and Warren counties, as well as the city of Winchester.
The funds, available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, are intended to make localities more prepared if a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, were to hit.
“[The plan] involves strategies to lessen impacts as well as training and outreach,” said Keihn.
She said examples of strategies included in the plan are increasing broadband coverage throughout the region to facilitate rescue communication, LED signage to inform residents of emergency shelter locations and backup generators for lift stations and wastewater treatment plants.
The plan will be approved by FEMA “when staff is available,” which Keihn estimates will be by March. After that, it must go before the board of supervisors in each county for approval. Then, requests for funds may be submitted for particular projects by the regional emergency manager, which, for Shenandoah County, is Fire and Rescue Chief Gary Yew.
Keihn said it’s difficult to predict at this point how much money will be allocated to each locality.
“The Hazard Mitigation Plan enables localities to be eligible to seek funding in the event a disaster occurs. Disaster- specific funds that become available vary,” she said.
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management is holding a webinar next week to outline funds available particularly for Hurricane Sandy damage.
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