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Otter Tail County seeks public comment on multi-hazard mitigation plan

The plan addresses how to mitigate against hazards such as tornadoes, flooding, wildland fires, blizzards, straight-line winds, ice storms and droughts which have the potential for inflicting vast economic loss and personal hardship. The review and comment period is open through Dec. 15.

OTC Courthouse.jpg
Otter Tail County Courthouse. (Perham Focus File Photo)

Otter Tail County has completed an updated draft of its Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan (MHMP) and is now seeking public feedback on it.

Citizens can find a link to review the plan and offer feedback by visiting z.umn.edu/OtterTailHMP . Mitigation actions by jurisdiction are also available online. The review and comment period are open through Wednesday, Dec. 15. After that, the county will submit the draft plan to the State of Minnesota and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for review, according to an Otter Tail County news release.

The MHMP covers the cities in Otter Tail County and the portions of Rothsay and Wadena that are located within the county. The MHMP also incorporates the concerns and needs of townships, school districts and other stakeholders participating in the plan.

Otter Tail County is vulnerable to a variety of potential natural disasters, which threaten the loss of life and property in the county, according to the release. The plan addresses how to mitigate against hazards such as tornadoes, flooding, wildland fires, blizzards, straight-line winds, ice storms and droughts which have the potential for inflicting vast economic loss and personal hardship.

RELATED ARTICLE: Otter Tail County seeks community input on disaster plan

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The plan has been updated by the Otter Tail County Emergency Management in cooperation with U-Spatial at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Representatives from county departments, city and township governments, school districts and other key stakeholders also participated.

The planning team identified cost-effective and sustainable actions to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to human life or property from natural hazards. Here are some examples from the plan:

  • Improvement of roads and culverts that experience repetitive flooding;
  • Construction of safe rooms at campgrounds, public parks, mobile home parks or schools to protect lives in the event of tornados or severe wind events;
  • Burying powerlines that may fail due to heavy snow, ice or wind storms;
  • Ensuring timely emergency communication to the public through warning sirens and mass notification systems;
  • Conducting public awareness and education campaigns to help people be prepared to take safe action before, during or following a hazard event.

Hazard mitigation planning helps protect residents. Working with local communities through the process helps identify vulnerabilities and develop strategies to reduce or eliminate the effects of a potential hazard, according to the release. In addition, increasing public awareness of local hazards and disaster preparedness helps to create a community that is resilient to disaster and breaks the cycle of response and recovery.
Updating the plan further allows the county and its jurisdictions to apply for eligible projects under future Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant funding from FEMA.

Community feedback is vital to the success of the plan. Otter Tail County invites public review and feedback of the draft plan prior to submitting it to the State of Minnesota and FEMA for review. Feedback may be provided via the online comment form or directly to Otter Tail County Emergency Management at 218-998-8067 or pwaletzk@co.ottertail.mn.us.

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