Emergency response officials launch latest Erie County hazard mi - Erie News Now | WICU & WSEE in Erie, PA

Emergency response officials launch latest Erie County hazard mitigation plan

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ERIE, Pa. -

Whether it was the massive "Father's Day Flood" last June, the tornadoes in November or the seven feet of snow around Christmas, the wild weather throughout 2017 shaped Erie County's new hazard mitigation plan.

"As we were getting into the ending process of this plan, that's when Father's Day happened," said Brian Mesaros, Erie County assistant emergency management coordinator. "So we were able to incorporate some of the issues with that into this plan."

It's nearly 700 pages of proactive and reactive plans, everything from rapid response times and evacuations, to preventing things like coastal erosion on Lake Erie and cleaning up from natural disasters.

"By having these plans, it allows municipalities to be eligible for funding to create some of those projects and see them to fulfillment," said Mesaros, whose department drafted the plan with the county's planning department.

Municipalities are required to have a plan of their own every five years. Many sign onto the county's proposal, saving each of them tens of thousands of dollars. So far, nine of the 38 have signed off, Mesaros said. Tuesday, Erie County Council joined them unanimously approving the plan.

"The biggest benefit of that is that the public can be reasonably assured that as best we can to plan for these disasters that come about," said Council Chairman Dr. Kyle Foust.

The plan also outlines response efforts for things Erie doesn't usually see, like earthquakes even a radiological incident.

The county also received a grant for 75 percent of the funding to conduct the study, Mesaros added.

For the first time, Erie County officials are preparing for damage to local infrastructure as well. For example, the intersection of 24th & State Streets in the City of Erie has seen a sinkhole and several water main breaks over the last few years.

"The state did some surveys and found out that we're one of the worst states for bridges, so that all builds into that infrastructure," Mesaros said.

A plan to make sure things go smoothly should those so-called "100-year-storms" happen more often.

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