Region plans for disasters

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 17, 2005

Does a heavy rainfall almost guarantee your house will flood?

Or do you have a permanent reminder from flooding during Hurricane Isabel, maybe a waterline on the side of a garage?

If so, Capt. James T. Judkins wants to know.

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The city’s emergency services coordinator is hosting a public meeting for Suffolk residents to share their knowledge, ideas, and comments on past natural disasters in the city from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Whitemarsh Road fire station.

The citizen input will be used to develop a regional Hazard Mitigation Plan for the southside Hampton Roads cities of Suffolk, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach and Isle of Wight County. Once the regional plan is adopted by the participating local governments, each locality will create separate “mitigation action plans,” Judkins added.

The ultimate goal of the plan is to minimize or eliminate the long-term risk to human life and property from natural hazards by identifying and implementing cost-effective mitigation actions, said Judkins. Hazards may include natural events such as hurricanes, nor’easters, flooding, ice storms, and tornadoes.

“Flooding is the biggest problem we expect to hear about in this area,” Judkins said. “Citizen input is vital to the development of this plan.”

The mitigation plan is required for local communities to remain eligible for

future grant funds made available through Federal Emergency Management Agency’s

Pre-Disaster Mitigation and Hazard Mitigation Grant programs, Judkins said.

The FEMA programs make money available through loans and grants to prevent

problems, such as flooding, from reoccurring, he said.

In years past, the city has used FEMA money available after Hurricane Bonnie to improve drainage at the East Washington Street underpass and to enclose ditches in south Suffolk, Judkins said.

Participating localities received a federal grant to fund the creation of the mitigation plan, Judkins added.