Vision Planning and Consulting (VPC) was awarded the contract by the Pennsylvania Historic Museum Commission (PHMC) to develop a Hazard Vulnerability Assessment, with special attention to flooding related hazards, for historical properties and resources. This project was PHMC’s Phase 2: Historic Property Vulnerability Assessment, Hazard Mitigation Strategy Development, and Plan Integration for four counties in the Commonwealth: Bedford County, Cameron County, Monroe County, and Philadelphia.
Flooding is Pennsylvania’s most common and highest ranked natural hazard, thereby making the protection of historic properties and cultural resources in the floodplain, a high priority for the PHMC. In the past, historic properties have not been given the prominence they both need and deserve. Additionally, these properties have not been taken into consideration while developing vulnerability assessments in local hazard mitigation plans. Consequently, hazard mitigation plans typically do not contain specific mitigation actions to help reduce risk to these historic or cultural resources.
Phase II primarily focuses on reducing risk to these historic places from flood hazards, including riverine flooding, as well as tidal-related inundation resulting from tropical storm surge and sea level rise, which primarily affects Philadelphia. While the focus is on flooding, VPC will also identify mitigation actions for other hazards that threaten the built environment in these four counties. Mitigation actions related to winter storms, hurricane/tropical storms and nor’easters will be developed, to augment flood mitigation actions.
Phase II actions will be based on the Phase 1 inventory, which identified historic properties (including those that are listed in the National or Pennsylvania Registers) located in the 100-year floodplains, as well as any archaeological sites. These structures will be evaluated to identify character-defining features, as well as any rare, unique, or nationally significant properties, that may warrant special protection or consideration.
VPC’s goal is to garner and incorporate as much public participation and input as possible during the project lifecycle. VPC recognizes the importance of resident, public, and stakeholder participation in the hazard mitigation process and has developed a robust Public Engagement Strategy that will encourage an ongoing two-way dialogue between PHMC and the communities. After all, no one knows these communities better than the locals, so their involvement is vital to the success of the project.