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Staying prepared for disaster response: Council approves update to hazard mitigation plan


Regional collaboration key to preparations


The Metropolitan King County Council today gave its unanimous approval to the updated King County’s Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan, the county’s planning blueprint to alleviate the death, injury, and property damage that can result from a natural disaster in the region.

“Approving our updated hazard mitigation plan is so important as it’s the foundation of our plans for preparedness,” sad Councilmember Kathy Lambert, the sponsor of the legislation and the chair of the Council’s Law, Justice and Emergency Management Committee. We know disasters are going to happen and it’s important that we are continually preparing and updating and practicing so we can be ready for them. This vital plan sets us up for coordination with our city and district partners.”

The federal Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 requires local jurisdictions to adopt a hazard mitigation plan, and this plan is required to be updated every five years. The ordinance approved by the council adopts the 2014 update to the county’s Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan.

The Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the county agency responsible for hazard mitigation planning, conducted an inclusive planning process to complete this update. The county’s plan is a collaborative effort with 26 city and town governments and 27 special purpose districts.

The 2014 plan includes a countywide risk assessment and mitigation strategy, and jurisdiction-specific plans, or “annexes”, for unincorporated King County, and each partner city, town or special purpose district. These annexes include nearly 700 potential actions that a jurisdiction could take to reduce the damage and harm from natural hazards.

The plan addresses the following natural hazards, listed here in decreasing order of county-wide risk/probability: earthquake, severe weather, severe winter weather, flood, landslide, wildfire, dam failure, avalanche, volcano, and tsunami. The plan also provides an overview of how risk from these hazards will change as a result of future climate change impacts. King County has experienced 31 events since 1956 that triggered a presidential disaster declaration, the majority of which have been severe storms and two of which were earthquakes (1965 and 2001).

Adoption of the plan meets federal hazard mitigation planning requirements and allows the county and the other planning partners to apply for funding through Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant programs.

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