Clallam County OKs hazard mitigation plan

Cascadia quake ranked No. 1

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County commissioners have approved a hazard mitigation plan to prepare for man-made and natural disasters like the Cascadia earthquake.

The three commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the 411-page document, which is available at the Clallam County website, www.clallam.net.

“This plan, developed with a contractor and the input of numerous jurisdictions, stakeholders and the public, identifies the vulnerabilities we face in Clallam County and suggested projects to mitigate the impact disasters could bring us,” Sheriff Bill Benedict said in an executive summary.

Undersheriff Ron Cameron, Clallam County’s emergency management director, said the last update to the multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plan was approved in 2011.

The plan identifies projects that that could help the county, cities, tribes and other partners prepare for and respond to a disaster like a flood, wildfire or earthquake, Cameron said.

“We always turn to Cascadia,” Cameron told commissioners in a Monday work session.

“There’s an example there where we talk about earthquake resiliency and things like that. Flooding is a big issue sometimes. It hasn’t been recently, but it has been in the past.

“We go though all these possibilities and rank them and work on projects responding to them,” Cameron said.

Scientists say a magnitude-9.0 earthquake strikes along the Cascadia Subduction zone off the Pacific Northwest coast on average once every 300 to 500 years.

The last Cascadia earthquake occurred in Jan. 26, 1700, according to the geological record and written accounts about the tsunami that reached Japan.

Cascadia ranked No. 1 for hazards in Clallam County in the newly-adopted plan.

FEMA requires the county to update its hazard mitigation plan every five years.

“It opens up all the jurisdictions for available grants that can help you in these mitigation projects,” Cameron said.

”It doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get those grants without the plan, but it certainly enhances the capability if you’ve already got the projects identified and what you want to do and how you want to accomplish things.”

Cameron said the full plan, including appendices, is 1,047 pages.

“It’s very involved, obviously,” he said.

Clallam County used a grant to hired a consultant, Ecology and Environment, Inc., to help to update the plan, Cameron said.

The cities of Port Angeles, Sequim and Forks and the Jamestown S’Klallam and Lower Elwha Klallam tribes “jumped on board” with the effort, Cameron said.

The Makah and Quileute tribes had preexisting hazard plans but helped in the countywide effort, as did the Clallam County Public Utility District and Peninsula College, Cameron said.

“Over the last year plus, we’ve had numerous public and stakeholder-type meetings here at Clallam County that involved not just those people but people like the fire districts and the hospitals and on and on,” Cameron said.

“The public had some very good input.”

Final approval of the multi-jurisdictional plan is expected from FEMA, Cameron said.

Commissioner Mark Ozias said the latest version of the hazard mitigation plan is a “huge step ahead.”

He credited Cameron for his “quiet and steady leadership” in the multi-jurisdictional planning effort.

“I really want to underscore for any of the public who are listening that this is an extremely collaborative project and product,” Ozias said in the work session Monday.

“Each jurisdiction has put in just as much effort as has the county.

“I’m anxious to adopt this tomorrow, and I’m anxious to continue utilizing it as working document going forward,” Ozias said.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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