To ensure the availability of federal aid in the case of natural disaster, Tabernacle is in the process of updating its hazard mitigation plan.
The purpose of hazard mitigation planning is to identify policies, actions and tools for implementation that will, over time, work to reduce risk and the potential for future losses. Hazard mitigation is best realized when community leaders, businesses, citizens and other stakeholders join together in an effort to undertake a process of learning about hazards that can affect their area and use this knowledge to prioritize needs and develop a strategy for reducing damages, officials said.
According to township emergency management coordinator William Lowe, the plan’s changes must be approved at three different levels before it is presented to the township committee.
The mitigation planning section of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act enacted by the Disaster Mitigation Act requires a community mitigation plan as a condition of disaster assistance. To apply for federal aid for technical assistance and post-disaster funding, Tabernacle must comply with the DMA and its implementing regulations.
“Right now, we are waiting for final Federal Emergency Management Agency approval. From there it moves on to the state and then to the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders,” Lowe said. “Since it is an annex to the county’s existing plan, they need to approve it.”
While Burlington County has always sought ways to reduce its vulnerability to hazards, the passage of the DMA helped county officials recognize the benefits of pursuing a long-term, coordinated approach to hazard mitigation through hazard mitigation planning.
The county has received grant funds from FEMA for the purpose of developing this hazard mitigation plan. The Burlington County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan has been prepared to meet the requirements of the DMA. It represents the collective efforts of citizens, elected and appointed government officials, business leaders, volunteers of non-profit organizations and other stakeholders. Natural disasters cannot be prevented from occurring, however, over the long-term, the continued implementation of this plan should gradually, but steadily, lessen the impacts associated with hazard events, officials said.
FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant programs provide funding for eligible mitigation activities that reduce disaster losses and protect life and property from future disaster damages. What Lowe is asking of residents is toreview the plan and reach out to him with any questions or concerns.
“Really, I want the public to see it and have the opportunity to review it, ask questions, really just learn more about what the township will be doing in the event of an emergency,” Lowe said. “I would like to have the public comment on it before it is presented to the township committee.”
Lowe said the process of the plan being approved at the federal, state and county level will take “a couple of months.” Residents can review the plan at www.townshipoftabernacle-nj.gov.