Participate Via their New 360° Virtual Open House!
Planning in Progress
by Kristen E. Humphrey, MLA, Local Assistance and Training Planner
The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is currently updating the State of Maryland’s Hazard Mitigation Plan as the current plan expires on August 26, 2021.
As stated on MEMA’s website: “Hazard mitigation is any sustained action taken to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to life and property from hazard events. MEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Branch collaborates with governmental and non-governmental partners before, during, and after disaster events to identify, craft, and implement comprehensive hazard mitigation strategies.”
Hazard mitigation planning reduces loss of life and property by minimizing the impact of disasters, whether natural disasters such as floods, severe storms, wildfires, or other types of disasters including public health emergencies such as the current COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. (MEMA’s response to the pandemic was the subject of an article in our May edition of Planning Practice Monthly and can be viewed here.)
The state will first conduct a Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) to identify potential hazards and associated risks and vulnerabilities. A set of mitigation actions will then be developed into a comprehensive strategy to develop long-term solutions to increase the resilience of the state.
Given the constraints posed by the pandemic, MEMA has developed a virtual open house where “visitors” can view maps and written materials for each of Maryland’s five regions (Western, Central, Southern, Upper Eastern Shore and Lower Eastern Shore).
Materials are color coded to correspond to the different regions and appear on screen as large conference style banners displayed as if in a virtual gallery-type space. Each region has three banners in the flowing categories: Hazard Threats; Critical Facilities; and State-Owned Facilities.
To view all five regions, one navigates around the room by using left, right and up, down arrows as well as a + and – symbol for zooming in and out, which can be found at the bottom of the screen or by clicking and dragging your cursor to view another part of the room.
Clicking on the banners reveals the related maps and PDF documents that are available for download. For example, clicking on the yellow banner for Critical Facilities for the Central Region, opens maps which locate the facilities in each of the nine counties making up the region. Clicking on one of the maps will also enlarge it, or you can open or download the maps in PDF format.
Additionally, a table “stands” in the middle of the room displaying other materials, including: the Flood Mitigation Guide for Maryland’s Historic Buildings produced by the Maryland Historical Trust; directions for downloading MEMA’s mobile app, Maryland Prepares; FEMA’s mobile that includes a new Mitigate Your Risk section; and finally, a virtual Comment Box. Clicking on any of these icons opens PDF versions of the materials which can be printed out or downloaded.
To learn more about the 2021 State Hazard Mitigation plan and participate in the planning process, be sure to visit the MEMA’s virtual open house or contact: JaLeesa Tate, CFM Hazard Mitigation Branch Manager/State Hazard Mitigation Office, MEMA at firstname.lastname@example.org.