Officials seeking feedback on plans

GREENFIELD — Local officials recently completed a report outlining what natural disasters the county might be exposed to, and now they’re turning to residents for input on potential dangers in their communities.

Hancock County was identified as high risk for drought, flooding, extreme temperatures and hail and windstorms, according to the newly released multi-hazard mitigation plan, which is required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be updated every few years.

A committee consisting of stakeholders from a variety of fields, including local utility companies as well as government planning and surveying offices, compiled the draft of the report and are asking residents to contribute their concerns before they send a finalized version to FEMA, which requires communities to examine the issues frequently and update response plans in order to remain eligible for federal disaster relief grants.

Mike Fruth, director of Greenfield utilities, who was among representatives on the board, said he depends on residents for input if they see any potential hazards, such as tree limbs that overhang power lines, which pose risks during thunderstorms.

Though the department regularly monitors for hazards, it’s impossible to keep up to date with every property in the city, Fruth said.

The report is available for the public to read through June 10 at the Hancock County Courthouse Annex, 111 American Legion Way, inside the surveyor’s office.

Residents are encouraged to leave feedback with county surveyor Susan Bodkin, who coordinated the report.

To complete the plan, representatives from Hancock County, the city of Greenfield and all local towns identified which hazards their regions are susceptible to, including an array of weather events, natural disasters and also likelihood of structural failures on dams or utilities.

The report, which took about 11 months to complete, acts as an inventory of potential emergencies, said Misty Moore, county director of emergency management, who serves as the go-between with local, state and federal government for emergency relief.

To measure the possibility of any of the events occurring, members of the committee referenced local historical data, including rain and snowfall totals and the average response times of emergency vehicles. Members also examined building plans to see which facilities have generators and could sustain electricity during power outages.

The report also establishes which public safety services would handle emergencies in areas throughout the county, which ensures departments don’t duplicate one another’s efforts, Moore said.

The conclusion of the report outlines strategies to reduce long-term vulnerability. Efforts include training for employees in various local departments to identify and track potential hazards as they emerge.

One measure is to train county staff members in the surveyor’s office to run through what-if scenarios to determine the potential impact of natural disasters.

Though the report is completed every five years, conditions at various regions throughout the county change constantly, Moore said.

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Daniel Morgan is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (317) 477-3228 or dmorgan@greenfieldreporter.com.