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County updating its hazard mitigation plan; 30-day comment period slated

JOHNSTOWN — Fulton County is in the process of updating the county’s hazard mitigation plan, with a 30-day public comment period.

According to county Emergency Management Office Director Steven Santa Maria, the public comment period runs from July 19 to Aug. 19.

Fulton County announced the 30-day public comment for the 2021 update to the Fulton County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP).

Santa Maria said this HMP update is part of a state pilot program to test the MitigateNY hazard mitigation planning software, funded by FEMA and administered by the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

Fulton County is the fourth county to develop and publish its HMP using the new MitigateNY web-based software. The software is the result of an ongoing partnership between the state and the University at Albany’s Visualization and Informatics Laboratory (AVAIL).

The purpose of this HMP is to effectively reduce future disaster damages, public expenditure, private losses, and community vulnerability to natural, technological and man-made hazards.

“Did you know that Fulton County has recorded $5.44 million in total damages from flood events between 1996 and 2020?” asked Santa Maria. “Flooding is the natural hazard that presents the most risk in the county, but it’s not the only natural hazard that causes damage to structures or loss of life. Fulton County and its jurisdictions have been utilizing FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Plan process to reduce risk to natural hazards and the process continues with this 2021 update to the HMP.”

Santa Maria said citizens of Fulton County and other stakeholders are invited to comment on the draft Hazard Mitigation Plan. The plan can be found at https://fulton.mitigateny.org. To access the web-based plan, you’ll need to use a modern web browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Edge. Please feel free to click around. Specific towns and villages can be accessed via a “dropdown menu” in the top navigation panel. Selecting a town or village will orient the entire website to that community’s information.

There is a survey located on the public comment page of the website for your input, and one for submitting comments. Please note that the software is still being tested, and as a result you may experience bugs. Please email your questions, comments, concerns, feedback, or descriptions of any software bugs you experience via this survey form.

“Let’s work together to reduce risk to natural hazards in Fulton County,” Santa Maria said.

He noted AVAIL is a data science planning laboratory within the State University of New York at Albany. AVAIL is on a mission to empower a new generation of students to assimilate computer science knowledge and subject-matter expertise in the fields of data science and analytics. In doing so, AVAIL is formulating innovative solutions for private business and government.

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