It reads like a road map to mayhem, but Augusta’s new and improved hazard mitigation plan could also help save lives and property whenever disaster strikes.
The 212-page document, which updates a 2006 plan, was given formal approval June 28 by Georgia’s emergency management agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Mayor Deke Copenhaver.
Hazard plans include expert assessments of risk and vulnerability, in addition to historical data on past disasters whose frequency and severity might help predict future events. They are required of major population centers that might need state and federal disaster assistance.
Local officials and committee members who helped update the study worked not only to rank risk factors for various scenarios, but also to create a reference guide with useful details on fire, floods, hurricanes and other incidents in the area over the past half century.
It covers wildfires to winter storms, hail to hurricanes and has contingencies for terrorist attacks, technology breakdowns and nuclear plant meltdowns. There are even sections covering sinkholes, mudslides and riots.
The riskiest events, however, are tornados and chemical spills.
“In the Natural Hazards category respondents ranked Tornado/Windstorm Hail as the highest community risk, followed by Flooding, Drought/Extreme Heat, Winter Storms, Wildfires, and Earthquakes,” the plan concluded. “In the Manmade/Technological Hazards category respondents ranked Chemical Leak/Spill as the highest community risk, followed by Terrorism, Nuclear Incident, and Dam/Levee Failure.”
The Augusta Emergency Management Department and the Augusta Planning & Development Department worked with Pudar Mitigation Consulting Inc., city staff and a large group of community stakeholders to update the plan.
“I would like to especially acknowledge the volunteer efforts of our community stakeholders in giving of their time and energy to make this plan a huge success,” Copenhaver said.
The plan will not require revision again until 2017.