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Comanche County updates plan for natural disasters

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COMANCHE COUNTY, Okla._Comanche County is updating their Hazard Mitigation Plan which could help fund projects to combat disasters before they happen and save area towns a lot of money.

The update was discussed Monday in a special meeting with county officials as well as representatives from area towns and schools. The current plan only covers county roads and county-owned properties, but they want to expand it.

The changes to the plan all comes down to FEMA funding. Being a part of this plan will make them eligible for pre-disaster relief. That funding can be used on anything from simple education up to larger projects like safe rooms.

Comanche County has seen its fair share of storms, floods, and wildfires.

"It's going to happen, it's going to happen. We need to think of the future in a lot of this," said Stan Rice, Environmental services director for ASCOG.

Rice says just because these disasters happen, it doesn't mean you can't be ready for it, and preparing is ultimately the cheaper route.

"FEMA is telling us we will help you mitigate against these hazards to keep from having to pay these enormous sums when the big hazard hits. It's cheaper to mitigate than to pay for disaster aid," said Rice.

Because of recent disasters like tornadoes and wildfires, Rice says sometimes we get focused on just preparing for them.

"It's human nature. You know we look at a disaster and we really get tuned into that disaster and we almost forget about doing some things with other disasters. We haven't had flooding in a long time because we are in a drought, once a flood hits everyone will get concerned with flooding again," said Rice.

Monday's meeting was strictly informational and no action was taken. Now Rice wants those who attended, whether they were a town's mayor or a school superintendent, to prioritize their towns needs.

"Well we always need storm shelters. Maybe not, there may be enough storm shelters in these towns they may need a different thing. They may need flood control," said Rice.

There are 11 hazards that are defined in the plan. With the towns and schools in the plan, FEMA would pay for 75 percent of a pre-disaster project. Each town must come to at least two of these meetings to be included in the new plan.

Rice plans to have the plan finished and sent into FEMA for their approval by this November.


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