Gregg County hazard mitigation meeting fails to draw attendees

Gregg County is updating its Hazard Mitigation Action Plan, and the agencies driving the effort were prepared to welcome 300-plus attendees for a public meeting Monday night.
No one showed.
The project partners powered on, however, offering a half-hour overview of their progress so far. For one, such meetings are essential in this kind of process. Second, the information’s that important.
According to Rhonda Murphy of H20 Partners, Gregg County’s consultant spearheading the multi-jurisdictional effort, the general idea’s to look at all possible hazards countywide, assess them and mitigate them as much as possible in advance.
For the most part, the potential disasters are natural – tornadoes, floods and the like – but manmade problems, like hazardous material spills, are in the mix as well.
“Mitigation is going to implementing long-term solutions to reduce your risk,” Murphy said. “What you should always look toward is making your plan useful for your community.”
In addition to Gregg County, participating entities include the cities of Gladewater, White Oak, Longview, Kilgore, Clarksville City, Easton and Lakeport in addition to the East Texas Council of Governments. Sabine FD also attended Monday’s session.
Importantly, the Hazard Mitigation Action Plan (HMAP) is necessary if the county aims to comply with the federal requirements that open the door to hundreds of millions of dollars in available grant funds that can be allocated for such disasters.
One still-new option: a grant program specifically for mitigating high hazard dam, like the aging structure at Lake Gladewater.
“All of this is meant to be a tool for communities to use to analyze their risk,” Murphy said. “At the end of the day, If money is available, we want to make sure we’re making the smartest decisions possible to use that money.”
A follow-up planning session for first responders and subsequent public meeting are set for Dec. 11, again at Longview’s Maude Cobb Convention Center, which hosted the first meeting Oct. 30.
A related public survey is available online and open through Jan. 31 – visit to participate.
The draft plan for the project is due to the planning team May 31 with a planned submission date of June 30 to the Texas Department of Emergency Management.

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