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Lewiston leery of countywide natural disaster preparation plan

November 18th, 2015 Posted in Opinion

By Jillian McCarthy

LEWISTON — Lewiston’s City Council is on the fence over the 2015 Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan. Even though the plan is designed to not cost the city anything, most of the members are still unsure if there are hidden fees, and they want more answers before they decide to adopt the plan.

“The Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan for the Bear River Region is a large document which analyzes the risks each community has to natural hazards,” said Zac Covington, the senior regional planner for the Bear River Association of Governments and the project manager for the updated plan. “The plan is intended to help elected officials and staff find ways to lessen or, in rare instances, eliminate their potential losses from natural hazard events by implementing mitigation strategies.”

The plan is designed for proactive projects to be completed before hazardous events occur.

“For example, a community could build a new retention basin above an existing development to prevent flooding in those homes, or they could retrofit their town library to make it safer during an earthquake,” Covington said.

He also said that if Lewiston decides to go ahead with the projects that the plan contains, then the town can either apply for federal funds or decide to fund the projects itself.

City Council member Jeff Hall said there are always strings attached to free money, and he wants some things answered before he considers adopting the plan.

Covington has offered to attend a Council meeting to answer the members’ questions.

“If the town is concerned about adopting the plan, I can come answer questions, and they, as the governing body, will decide on their own whether or not they want to adopt it,” Covington said.

Don Baldwin, another Council member, said he did not believe the town would get out of the plan what was put into it. “We will be better if we take care of our issues locally,” Baldwin said.

Covington said that, according to the updated analysis, Lewiston is vulnerable to flooding, wildfire, and earthquake hazards.

If the Council decides not to adopt the plan, it can adopt a future approved plan.

“There is no repercussion for failing to adopt the plan, other than the fact that they won’t be eligible to apply for federal funds down the road until they adopt an approved plan,” Covington said.

TP

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