What is Natural Hazard Mitigation?
Natural Hazard Mitigation is any sustained action taken to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to human life and property from natural hazards. Example mitigation strategies include policy changes, such as updated ordinances; projects, such as seismic retrofits to critical facilities; and education and outreach to targeted audiences, such as rural residents or elderly populations.
Mitigation is the ultimately the responsibility of the “whole community:” individuals, private business and industries, state and local governments, and the federal government. Engaging in mitigation activities provides jurisdictions with many benefits, including reduced loss of life, property, essential services, critical facilities and economic assets; reduced short-term and long-term recovery and reconstruction costs; increased cooperation and communication within the community and region through the planning process; and increased potential for state and federal funding for recovery and reconstruction projects.
It is impossible to predict exactly when natural hazards will occur, or the extent to which they will affect the region. However, with careful planning and collaboration among public agencies, private sector organizations, and citizens within the region, it is possible to minimize the losses that can result from natural disasters.
Throughout history, Oregon has been subject to a range of natural disasters that have brought devastating consequences to communities. The Jackson County Multi-Jurisdictional Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan focuses on the primary natural hazards that could affect the county and the cities within the County. These include: flood, winter storm, landslide, wildfire, earthquake, volcano, wind, and drought.
The dramatic increase in the costs associated with natural disasters over the past decades has fostered interest in identifying and implementing effective means of reducing vulnerability. According to a 2005 study by the National Institute of Building Science’s Multi-Hazard Mitigation Council, for every dollar spent on mitigation, society can expect an average of $4 in post-disaster savings. But all that is just a fancy way of saying what folks in Jackson County know from year of experience living in wildfire country: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
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Jackson and Josephine Counties have plans to help reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to lives and property from natural hazards. These Natural Hazard Mitigation Plans assist the counties by identifying resources, information and strategies for risk reduction. The plans work in conjunction with other City and County plans and programs, and are updated every five years. The Jackson County plan is currently in the process of being updated now. The Josephine County Plan is also in the process of being updated.
Jackson County and most of the cities (Shady Cove, Butte Falls, Rogue River, Phoenix, Talent, Eagle Point and Ashland) are working together to update the Jackson County Multi-Jurisdictional Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan. Working with representatives from local and regional utility providers, public safety professionals, public infrastructure providers, elected officials and others, the main purpose of the plan is to reduce risks to people, property and the local economy BEFORE the next wildfire, winter storm, flood or earthquake strikes. A team from the University of Oregon’s Community Service Center is assisting with the update process.
Natural Hazard Mitigation Planning
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Approval of the plan by the Federal Emergency Management Agency will ensure the County and Cities maintain their eligibility to apply for federal hazard mitigation funds. For example, Jackson and Josephine County are currently applying for grant funds to support the purchase and installation of new wildfire detection cameras. These cameras will allow emergency management and fire protection personnel to rapidly detect new wildfire starts in the county. The expected results are (1) quicker response times and (2) reduction in the overall cost to fight wildfires. With the update of this plan, the grant will cover 75% of the cost of the wildfire detection camera project. Without the update to the Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan, the County would not be eligible for federal assistance. In that case, the County would need to either fund 100% of the project locally, find other funding sources, delay, or cancel the purchase of the cameras until funding could be identified.
Rogue Valley Emergency Management
A collaborative endeavor between Jackson & Josephine County Emergency Management to help the citizens of the Rogue Valley prepare for and respond to disasters