Gonzales County was successful in obtaining a General Land Office (GLO) Local Hazard Mitigation Plans Program (LHMPP) assistance grant to update the Gonzales County Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Gonzales County Judge Patrick C. Davis explained that the multi-jurisdictional plan will offer practical approaches and examples so that Gonzales communities can engage in effective planning to reduce long-term risk from natural hazards and disasters.
Along with Gonzales County, the plan will include the incorporated cities of Gonzales, Waelder, and Smiley. The independent school districts will also be invited to participate in the plan development, along with the Gonzales County Sheriff’s Department, and other identified stakeholders.
According to FEMA, “Mitigation is an investment in the community’s future safety and sustainability. Its critical importance includes protecting public safety and preventing loss of life, reducing harm to existing and future development, and minimizing damage to a community’s unique economic, cultural, and environmental assets.”
The possible effects of a natural disaster often impact every aspect of the community with devastating consequences.
Judge Davis shared that though the project is being funded through GLO, the goal is to submit the final plan to FEMA for approval. The county has hired Langford Community Management Services Inc. (LCMS) to help guide the process and submit the plan to FEMA. Langford is committed to building the plan based on FEMA’s standards.
“The local hazard mitigation focus is based on a broad set of threats and how those compare with community vulnerabilities. We will be looking at everything from flood events to hurricanes, tropical storms, severe storms, tornados, hail, lightning, drought, wildfire, extreme heat, lightning strikes, and winter storms,” said Judy Langford, LCMS president.
The required plan includes a CORE Planning team from within Gonzales County, including the City of Gonzales and the City of Nixon, plus other participating jurisdictions. Local stakeholders will also be invited to help develop specific mitigation strategies unique to each community.
Once the CORE and stakeholder teams are established, online surveys and public outreach meetings will take place to identify residents’ top concerns. The survey will also be accessible to the public on the County’s website and at places such as libraries, city halls, and the Gonzales County Courthouse.
Hazard mitigation planning will include a review of County-wide capabilities, conducting a risk assessment, and identifying mitigation actions and goals while gaining public input.
Once FEMA has approved the Gonzales County Hazard Mitigation Plan, important projects and life-saving equipment will be identified to improve resilience. Furthermore, the county and participating jurisdictions will be eligible to apply for FEMA funding as it becomes available.
Judge Davis said he hopes that residents become engaged in the planning process and offer feedback about the plan. This process is an opportunity for open dialogue about what is needed to be stronger in the event of a natural disaster.