Guilford County emergency management officials want you to help tell them how they can do better when there’s a flood, hurricane, hazardous waste spill – or any other natural or man-made disaster that puts county residents at risk.
Guilford County is currently in the process of updating its plan that deals with all such events – aptly named the “Hazard Mitigation Plan” – and emergency responders and county officials are now seeking public input as to how the county and other entities in the community can respond to such events in a way that reduces the impact of those hazards.
In order to get that input, the county has scheduled a public comment period for Thursday, June 13, when the Local Emergency Planning Committee meets at the American Red Cross building at 1501 Yanceyville St. in Greensboro. That meeting will begin at 9 a.m. and anyone with ideas is invited to attend, as are those who just want to see how the county is planning for such events.
The current version of the Hazard Mitigation Plan can be found at https://www.guilfordcountync.gov/our-county/emergency-services/emergency-management/mitigation. That plan is updated every five years.
One thing county officials might be placing more emphasis on in the future is earthquakes after a small one hit at 12:32 a.m. on Tuesday, March 26. While it didn’t do any real damage, that 2.2 magnitude earthquake with a center near Archdale shook Guilford County and in other parts of central North Carolina.
It had residents asking how much of a threat a bigger earthquake is for this area.
At that time, Guilford County Emergency Management Coordinator Taylor Jones told the Rhino Times that Emergency Services ranks threats in terms of their likelihood, and he said that, while an earthquake isn’t a major threat to Guilford County, it’s something the department plans for.
Jones said some of the things that do rank high on the threat list are storms and tornados.
“At the top of the list are severe weather and winter weather,” he said. “Earthquakes fall fairly low on the scale.”
The county was a big victim of tornados, hurricanes and heavy storms in 2018.
Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan may want to attend the session because last year after one storm, a tweet from the mayor led to a tweet storm when she questioned the response time of Duke Energy in a now famous “Where are you?” tweet.
The county’s Hazard Mitigation Plan has a wide scope since it deals with everything from chemical spills or major gas leaks to weather events.
Guilford County Emergency Services told the Rhino Times earlier this year that it prepares for every type of conceivable threat and that there’s a lot of commonality in the way all those threats should be handled. For instance, with any type of hazardous event, there’s a need to make sure communication systems for emergency responders are up and running and a need to be prepared to set up shelters.
A statement posted on Guilford County’s website explains the importance of the Hazard Mitigation Plan as well as the critical role of local governments in the response.
“Hazard mitigation techniques include both structural measures (such as strengthening or protecting buildings and infrastructure from the destructive forces of potential hazards) and non-structural measures (such as the adoption of sound land use policies and the creation of public awareness programs),” it states. “It is widely accepted that the most effective mitigation measures are implemented at the local government level, where decisions on the regulation and control of development are ultimately made.”
It goes on to say, “A comprehensive mitigation approach addresses hazard vulnerabilities that exist today and in the foreseeable future. Therefore, it is essential that projected patterns of future development are evaluated and considered in terms of how that growth will increase or decrease a community’s overall hazard vulnerability.”