Team members from VPC travelled to Tunkahannock, Pennsylvania earlier this month to hold the first set of meetings for the 2018 Wyoming County Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) Update. Afternoon and evening meetings were held for the County Steering Committee, and municipal representatives, respectively. The attendance level for the municipal meeting was among the highest for any plan completed by VPC. The County EOC had standing room only for the 6pm meeting, and over 90 percent of the municipalities sent at least one representative, and 3 or 4 members, in some instances.
Anyone familiar with Pennsylvania’s style of government knows that the counties are comprised of townships, boroughs, and cities. Almost all legislative, regulatory, and zoning planning is handled at these local levels. The overwhelming participation of the municipalities in Wyoming County cements the fact that stakeholder engagement and local participation are the cornerstones of an effective planning process. Not only do these planning meetings provide the opportunity to explain the project purpose, planning process, action development, timelines, and deliverables to the local jurisdictions, they also provide an outlet to encourage discussion, collaboration, and an opportunity to gather more information on current hazard conditions, projects, and potential challenges.
A particular concern for Wyoming County was the increased number of natural gas wells/pads, pipelines, and compression stations throughout the county. Both the County Steering Committee and municipal representatives requested the inclusion of unconventional wells and pipelines to the list of hazards affecting the County. The meetings allow an opportunity to discuss changing the prioritization (Low, Moderate, High) for the identified hazards based on the probability of them occurring in each municipality. For example, Northmoreland Township may be more at-risk to pipeline hazards than Braintrim, or Forkston may be less at-risk to flooding than Nicholson. Using the County rankings as a baseline, hazards can be moved from high to moderate or from moderate to low for each jurisdiction, as the case may be.
Multiple outreach methods were used to gain such high participation levels in Wyoming County. An online Capabilities survey was developed and distributed. Additionally, worksheets were emailed to the jurisdictions directly to gather information on their current and past mitigation actions. Finally, face-to-face meetings were held after the municipal meeting in order to gather necessary information from those jurisdictions unable to complete the worksheets or surveys online, or who had questions prior to submitting.
By soliciting local input and participation, communities not only meet the Federal requirements to allow “an opportunity for neighboring communities, local and regional agencies involved in hazard mitigation activities, and agencies that have the authority to regulate development, as well as businesses, academia and other private and non-profit interests to be involved in the planning process,” but also it also helps gather more buy-in and general support for the projects, as a whole. When community leaders and decision makers feel like a part of the process, they are more inclined to become champions for these mitigation projects.
Do you have questions about increasing participation in your county? Are you preparing to update your HMP? Contact us to see how VPC can help you with your planning project!
VPC is proud to be working with FEMA Region III on a webinar for hazard mitigation planners and other partners interested in reducing risk in their communities. Our presentation, titled "Integrating Your Long Range Vision with your Hazard Mitigation Plan", will take place tomorrow, July 25, at 11am EDT.
"What’s the best way to ensure that plans are consistent with one another and that the principles embodied in the Hazard Mitigation Plan are supported and advanced by the other plans? Learn how your plans can pull together in the same direction toward a more resilient future."
For more information, or to register for the webinar, go to https://bit.ly/2AecG1s
Vision Planning and Consulting (VPC) was selected to be a U.S. Department of Commerce delegate to participate in the World Cities Summit, Singapore Water Week and CleanEnviro Summit in Singapore July 8-12, 2018. The objective was to promote U.S. companies in exporting products and services. The Summit explored how cities can be more livable and resilient through better governance and planning, technology and social innovations, as well as collaborations with various stakeholders with other cities.
“Of the three conferences, I particularly enjoyed the World City Summit. The focus was on creating innovative and integrated urban solutions for a more sustainable future through shared vision and active engagement with the public, private, and people sectors. Their showcase of best practices worldwide was enlightening,” said Deepa Srinivasan, VPC’s President.
VPC had the opportunity to network with a large number of organizations at the Summit that drew participants from as many as 125 countries in the areas of urban planning, water, and environment solutions. We worked closely with a local business specialist from the US Commercial Service in Singapore and was able to leverage local relationships. This effort was funded by the Export MD Program’s Office of International Investment and Trade.
“With our experience in disaster preparedness, hazard mitigation, emergency management, resiliency, flood mitigation and vulnerability, we were successful in forging partnerships with international firms on emergency planning efforts. VPC has set the stage and is poised to promote their services internationally as a Maryland company.
For more information contact: Deepa Srinivasan at firstname.lastname@example.org.