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Officials map out preparedness
Next meeting on plan is Aug. 22
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Forsyth County News

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For more information on the Forsyth County Hazard Mitigation Plan, call the Forsyth County Emergency Management Agency at (770) 205-5674.

In about two weeks, residents will have another chance to attend a public hearing on a plan mapping out Forsyth County’s response to potential natural disasters and other calamities.

During the first hearing, held Monday morning at the Forsyth County Public Safety Complex, local officials reviewed the proposed hazard mitigation plan and suggested a few changes.

Once finalized, the plan will be submitted to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, or GEMA, and the Federal Emergency Manage-ament Agency, or FEMA.

The draft, which covers the county and the city of Cumming, shows the area’s vulnerability to various incidents, including floods, severe storms and hazardous materials spills.

It also shows plans of action to handle such incidents.

Jason Heard of North Georgia Consulting Group explained the plan is required by the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 and is administered through GEMA.

"We originally created our first hazard mitigation plan, at least in this form, about five years ago, in 2006," he said.

"Every five years we’re required to do a complete update of the plan, so that’s what we’ve been doing over the course of the past several months and we’re nearing completion of that."

Lorraine Morris, the county’s emergency management agency coordinator, said Tuesday the plan enables officials to seek funding for certain projects.

Furthermore, it’s required in order for the county to be eligible for disaster funding.

As an example, she cited the culvert upgrades in the plan.

If a culvert is affected by a disaster, Morris explained, then "our engineering department can go ahead and upgrade that culvert."

"FEMA would accept that upgrade," she said. "It’s already in our hazard mitigation plan, therefore they wouldn’t have to put it back to pre-existing condition … it gives us a leg up for funding."

The proposed plan also calls for new fire stations and retrofitting existing county buildings with storm-safe areas.

After the meeting, officials discussed adding an emergency mobile communications trailer to the plan, Morris said.

She said the trailer could be used if a tower for communication devices were to go down.

The next public hearing on the plan is at 9 a.m. Aug.22 at the Forsyth County Public Safety Complex on Settingdown Road.