By Sarah Pridgeon
The Crook County Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan was officially adopted at this month’s meeting of the commissioners. Presented by Fire Warden Gari Gill, it has been a work in progress for the emergency management department for several years and will open the door to significant funding opportunities across the county.
The plan focuses on every potential natural hazard that might affect the towns and county in the future and project and plans to lessen the effects they may have. The overall intention is to make the Crook County community as disaster-resistant as possible and reduce its vulnerability to loss of life and property damage, should a natural disaster hit.
“This has been a labor of love over the past five years,” said Gill.
Approving the plan makes the county and municipalities eligible for certain project funding, usually at a desirable split, said Sundance Clerk-Treasurer Kathy Lenz, who was present at the meeting. She noted that these funding opportunities may help with upcoming projects in Sundance such as fixing the flood plain near the post office and reconstructing the city pond.
“It’s going to open up a lot of avenues for funding for us, not just from Homeland Security and FEMA,” agreed Gill. “I think we’ll benefit greatly from it.”
Lenz praised the county for implementing the plan, explaining that it will have positive affects across the community.
“This funding is a great source of revenue for all little towns, so we’re very appreciative that you guys had the foresight to go ahead and put it together,” she said.
“It’s a wonderful program and usually the funding is a 95-5 split. Every community in Crook County will benefit from that, it’s a big feather in your hat.”
To remain current, the plan must be updated every five years. It currently includes mitigation actions and projects from all participants in the process.
In Hulett, these goals include to obtain a generator for the community building that serves as a shelter, improve all-hazard response capability through airport improvements and construct an all-weather bridge to access the wastewater treatment plant.
Moorcroft’s proposed projects include adding siren coverage to include the Texas Trails area; establishing an emergency shelter and evacuation plan; conducting a planning exercise for a hazmat incident; addressing stormwater system capacity issues; and re-purposing the old school into a tornado and evacuation shelter.
Pine Haven would like to obtain easements for a second ingress/egress route to the community, while Sundance would like to design and build a new dam on the Sundance Pond, which is an existing known hazard.
The county has a wide range of projects, which include developing a notification system for rural areas; determining the number of people who might need shelter during an event and obtaining supplies; preparing pet shelters and educating citizens on using them; enrolling in the National Flood Insurance Program; and increasing awareness of accessing information during a disaster through social media.
Physical projects for the county include replacing the Arizona-style creek crossings on several rivers and creeks; installing a stream flow gauge on the Belle Fourche River above Hulett; constructing a fire station at Oshoto to specialize in hazardous materials along with a flow study of such materials; and retrofitting the Aladdin community building as a tornado shelter.
The county also plans to work with Public Health to put on training sessions for radiological or bioterrorism attacks, educate first responders about air quality hazards from mine activities and conduct an annual table-top exercise.
The Multi Hazard Mitigation Plan can be viewed on the county website at www.crookcounty.wy.gov