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Ocean County Prepares An All Hazards Mitigation Plan [AUDIO]

You cannot predict a natural or man-made disaster, but Ocean County is in the process of reducing the potential damage from one.

Mark Wilson, Getty Images

This week and next, the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and Pennsylvania-based Engineering firm Michael Baker Jr. are hoping to get the public’s feedback on the potential hazards that every community faces in an effort to develop Ocean County’s Multi-Jurisdictional All Hazards Mitigation Plan.

In a flier inviting the public to two upcoming Stakeholder Meetings, officials describe the All Hazards Mitigation plan as a blueprint for reducing property damage and saving lives from the effects of future natural and human-made disasters.

Sara Bowen of Michael Baker, says the planning process involving residents, businesses, academia, as well as local, county, state and federal officials is key in identifying hazards unique to Ocean County.

“The focus is on what mitigation actions the municipalities and the residents and stakeholders want to take in the plan. So the research is really setting up for public input and municipal input.”

Bowen says they’ll also be doing a detailed risk assessment that looks at what happens as far as hazards in Ocean County.

She says it covers obvious hazards like flooding, wildfires, hurricanes and large tropical storms as well as tornadoes, earthquakes and winter storms. They’ll also be looking at man-made disasters like nuclear incidents, transportation incidents and even wide spread power outages.

“The all hazards mitigation plan will have very specific recommendations that are developed in the mitigation strategy and there will be goals, objectives and actions and communities will sign up to elevate a series of houses, to get generators in order to operate emergency operation centers during storms, to think about relocating properties that are particularly vulnerable so that you don’t have facilities like nursing homes right in the middle of a flood plane and needing to evacuated during a storm,” Bowen said.

Superstorm Sandy wasn’t a catalyst for the mitigation plan, according to Bowen. However, she says the effects of Sandy will be factored into the plan’s development.

“Since the storm was so catastrophic for the county, it’s really obviously influenced our planning process. So we’re going to incorporate it into the work that we’re doing for an already required plan.”

Public & Stakeholder Meetings are being held on Tuesday, May 14th at the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management, located at the Robert J. Miller Air Park, Rt. 530 & Mule Rd., Berkeley Township, NJ. Another meeting is Scheduled for Monday, May 20th at the Ocean County Southern Service Center, 179 S. Main Street, Manahawkin, NJ 08050.

The meetings will run from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. with Brief presentations at 4, 5 and 6 p.m.

Bowen also says a website will be used to collect comments, announce meetings and post draft documents.

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