Friday, November 4, 2005
Regional disaster planning money is available
Grants are available to area towns from a program developed by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) for pre-disaster hazard mitigation planning. The program serves 28 communities in the northwest region of metropolitan Boston and is funded by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) monies for fire and disaster mitigation planning. The nationwide program is expected to be up and running after the first of the year according to statements made at MAGIC's (Minuteman Advisory Group on Interlocal Coordination) legislative breakfast on October 24.
MAPC is asking each of the 28 towns to form a local hazard mitigation community planning team which will be an annex to regional and state community planning teams (MHCPT). MHCPT seeks to identify hazards, interview and talk to local representatives and to identify local facilities that could be available in an emergency. One goal is to prepare a database and maps. There is a lot of work to be done.
For example, flood mapping currently used for an emergency response is based on 1966 data. Current mapping technology is computerized, using the Graphic Information Systems (GIS) format, which has accurate and more stable measures and enables faster and more effective response. The new maps will include critical facilties in each town, including town offices, schools, power substation, hospitals, and emergency operations centers. Remapping thus provides more current data and a much broader spectrum of basic information.
Hazard mitigation is related to homeland security, but deals with local readiness on issues of identification and preparedness rather than response. Hurricane Katrina demonstrated that the smooth coordination of local, state and federal programs is essential for an effective disaster response.
MAPC is trying to get parties involved in emergency response together to talk about response issues. MAGIC will focus on regional emergency preparedness issues at a public meeting on December 8 meeting at Maynard Town Hall.
It is not known to what extent Carlisle will be involved in regional hazard mitigation planning with MHCPT. The selectmen's office has not yet appointed representatives to the MHCPT team, and no Carlisle town government official attended the October 24 legislative breakfast where the availability of planning money was discussed.
© 2005 The