Hays County updates hazard mitigation plan

Keeping residents and officials prepared in the event of future natural disasters was the premise behind Hays County Commissioners’ approval of an update to its Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP).

The plan, which was approved by a 4-0 vote Jan. 16, will also help the county obtain federal grants in the event of future disasters.

Hazard Mitigation project grants are administered through the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to cities that qualify.

Kharley Smith, Hays County Emergency Management Coordinator, said the reason for the HMP was updated because of funding assistance for hazard mitigation projects, but also to update residents on the increased frequency of natural disasters like floods and fires in Hays County.

“I am really satisfied with the way the update process went and the collaboration with the cities involved and emergency services,” Smith said.

Buda Assistant City Manager Micah Grau said input from each community in Hays County for the updated plan was essential and that Buda garnered input from residents through a community survey for the plan.

“I believe Buda had the largest number of respondents (to the survey), so we feel that input was gathered and factored into the plan,” Grau said.

Kyle Fire Chief Kyle Taylor said the Emergency Management Office did the bulk of the work on the document, but experiences from the 2015 floods helped in the update of the Hazard Mitigation Plan.

“They came up with a pretty solid plan that will increase safety for everyone in the county,” Taylor said.

Smith said the document doesn’t include specific hazard mitigation information such as how to create a hazard evacuation bag, or what documents residents’ need during a disaster.

However, Smith said residents can get that information directly from the office of emergency management.

Smith said the HMP is meant to be a living document where county officials will be adding additional action items or hazard mitigation projects as needed, and completing action items/projects as funding becomes available.

“We can’t control mother nature at all, but based on what we learned from those experiences (2015 floods) we included that information in the plan to help with future disaster mitigation,” Taylor said.

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