Hazard plan now set for Alpena County

ALPENA – Alpena County and the Northern Michigan Council of Governments have completed the update to the county’s hazard mitigation plan. The plan, which will be given to the state, measures threats, response capabilities and steps that can be taken to improve plans that are already in place.

Emergency Manager/911 Director Mark Gurisko said the plan is an overview of emergency situations that could develop in the county and how it is prepared to deal with it. He said there are a wide variety of emergencies that are examined and then prioritized by the likelihood they could occur locally.

“It tells us where we should focus our resources for things such as forest fires, house fires, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, everything,” Gurisko said. “Then it prioritizes them according to which is most likely to happen. Then we will know where we should focus our efforts the most.”

Gurisko said NEMCOG helped to draft the updated plan, which also includes population numbers, first responder numbers and equipment. He said many of the scenarios, such as an earthquake are unlikely, but are possible. He said emergencies such as floods and fires are much more common and need to be planned more steadfastly.

“It looks at what we are doing now and what we want to be able to do in the future,” Gurisko said. “It updates the status on the efforts we are working on for particular matters.”

Gurisko said the last update was done in 2004 and many of the items that were suggested to be implemented or changed are ongoing. He said there are several that have been completed, such as equipment purchases that help prepare for any emergency event, but others can take years. Some of the strategies and priorities in the plan include prevention, property protection, education, public awareness, natural resource protection and structural projects. Gurisko said it even provides information on potential funding sources.

Gurisko said just like the city and county comprehensive plans, the mitigation plan is crucial to helping the area grow in terms of protecting against hazardous events. He said he believes people who live in the county should look at the plan because there is a lot of information in it.

“We have a copy on the county’s website for anyone who may be interested and there is a lot of good information in it,” Gurisko said. “There is a lot of geographical information in it and it really details pretty much everything there is to know about possible threats and how we would react to them.”

The plan is currently on display and is expected to be approved by the county commissioners during their meeting on Dec. 27 at 1 p.m.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at www.thealpenanews.com.