FEMA approves Dubuque County hazard mitigation plan - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

FEMA approves Dubuque County hazard mitigation plan

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This spring, FEMA approved a multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plan for Dubuque County, ensuring everybody in the county is subject to a FEMA-approved plan in the event of a disaster. This spring, FEMA approved a multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plan for Dubuque County, ensuring everybody in the county is subject to a FEMA-approved plan in the event of a disaster.
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Many people living in Dubuque County now have another safeguard in the event of a disaster.

This spring, FEMA approved a multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plan for Dubuque County, ensuring everybody in the county is subject to a FEMA-approved plan in the event of a disaster.

When catastrophic flooding hit Dubuque in late July of 2011, the southern part of the city along Catfish Creek became a raging river.

"Never ever thought I would have a flooded road," neighbor Paula Tschudi said.

She lives just a block from where the worst of it happened, including a neighbor's home that caught fire and got flooded.

Tschudi said she'll never forget that storm.

"It just rained and rained," she said. "It was like there was one big cloud over Dubuque and it just kept dumping water down."

Two properties in her neighborhood will soon become green space.

Kyle Kritz, an associate planner within Dubuque's planning and zoning department, said the city ultimately purchased two properties in the aftermath of the July 2011 flood: 1711 Old Mill Road and 1654 Manson Road.

For both purchases, the city used FEMA disaster funding, which is something to which every city in Dubuque County will now have easier access thanks to the newly FEMA-approved multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plan.

"There were some communities that never went through the planning process, so they didn't have their own individual plan," Dubuque County emergency management coordinator Tom Berger said. "We worked with all the communities and the school districts, so now everybody in the county is compliant with this multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plan."

The Dubuque County-wide plan comes after about three years of collaboration between Dubuque County, its cities and its two public school districts.

"When a disaster strikes, you hate to see somebody loose out on some federal funding in case we wouldn't have had a compliant plan," Berger said.

Asbury is one city that did not have a FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan prior to the county-wide one FEMA approved this spring.

City administrator Beth Bonz said Asbury did have a plan in case of a disaster -- it just wasn't FEMA-approved. Now, falling now under the umbrella of the FEMA-approved multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plan ensures a more surefire way of securing federal disaster relief in the event of an emergency.

Additionally, the plan gives cities like Asbury better access to FEMA dollars in order to plan ahead for a disaster.

"The mitigation plan identifies projects that the cities and the county want to do to alleviate flooding, whether it's a levee system, property acquisition, buyout programs -- different things that we can do in advance," he said.

A number of Dubuque County's cities had their own FEMA-approved plan, but the state is moving toward countywide plans, and Dubuque's is the latest to be approved.

According to Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management mitigation manager Mathew Noble, 60 of Iowa's 99 counties have a multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plan in place and approved by FEMA.

Noble said he expects the rest of the counties will likely have one within the next three years.

The plans for Black Hawk, Linn and Johnson counties are in the works, he added, but not yet FEMA-approved.

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