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Snohomish Focuses on Prevention Projects


Snohomish Focuses on Prevention Projects

By: Adam M. Matheny

Prevention Over Reacting

Twice a decade, emergency planners in Snohomish County take measure of the risks and hazards that endanger people and property. They use data gained from the county’s Hazard Mitigation Plan. This helps the community identify various options that could help reduce damage when faced with severe storms, flooding, landslides, and other issues.

Officials know that hazard mitigation isn’t the most glamourous approach, but it does work. Prevention, rather than simply reacting after a disaster, can help reduce lost of life and property damage.

Not only that, it makes good financial sense. Federal data has shown that for every dollar spent on mitigation, six dollars can be saved.

Staying Eligible for Federal Assistance

In addition to spending county dollars well in times of emergency, the planning has another purpose as well—it can help preserve eligibility for federal assistance dollars. Often, federal funding is dependent on whether or not local governments have taken the necessary steps to mitigate risk on their own—and Snohomish County has plenty of risks.

The county’s Glacier Peak volcano is one of these hazards; the plan also explores new and future hazards like chemical spills, terrorism, and cyber security issues.

Staying Abreast of Change

Changing climate is only one type of change that the planning commission must address. Booming population and changes due to digital technology also make a difference. With more areas of urbanization, as well, there are plenty of new potential hazards to look into, and strategies for dealing with old ones that might need to evolve.

Harm Reduction

Whether a disaster is natural, technological, or caused by human actions, it can cause injuries, deaths, and damage to property. All of the above can do long-lasting damage to the economy, especially when they disrupt funding from other projects.

But harm reduction isn’t the only purpose of the planning; it can also help identify projects that can be used to protect before a disaster happens.

Protecting Human Life and Property—on a Budget

By making sure that the county spends its own budget in a responsible way, maintaining federal assistance eligibility, and meeting the requirements of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Community Rating System, the planning can also help reduce flood insurance rates.

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