The Canal Winchester Times

City will follow county's hazards mitigation plan

Doing so is a requirement for obtaining FEMA aid, if it's needed

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If disaster strikes, it will be easier for Canal Winchester to receive federal help now that its city council has agreed to follow the Franklin County Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan.

Given the number of storms that have cut across the country recently, council members were eager to approve a resolution to adopt the plan.

Public Works Director Matt Peoples said doing so doesn't mean the city has to take any specific action but it is a requirement for jurisdictions seeking FEMA funds, if a disaster occurs.

"Franklin County has a history of severe weather and floods and the Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan deals with issues of property loss and the loss of life, as well as threats to the public's safety," Councilwoman Marilyn Rush-Ekelberry said.

"This is a guide to protect people and properties in Franklin County and is a condition of eligibility to receive federal funds through FEMA, if necessary."

The county's hazards mitigation plan is currently undergoing a five-year review and will be updated as necessary to meet Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security requirements.

According to plan documents, it will serve as a guide for local communities such as Canal Winchester in efforts to mitigate the loss of life and property from natural disasters.

"The Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan is about a 140-page document and is really in depth," Peoples said. "They put a lot of work into this over the years and Franklin County identified a lot of things for us, such as places that have repetitive losses due to being in the flood plain.

"The county is trying to buy those up and make them into green spaces so they stop the losses from happening," he said. "They also identify a lot about invasive species such as the emerald ash borer to mitigate hazards from those."

Canal Winchester Urban Forester Dick Miller said having an approved city planting guide in place that takes these recommendations into consideration will help create a healthier ecosystem but it will have to be flexible.

Currently, the street tree list is an appendix in the city's zoning text, and all changes must be reviewed by the planning and zoning commission. Peoples and Miller have asked for legislation to instead adopt an Urban Forest Tree List that would be in line with state and county standards and overseen by Miller.

"The new list will apply to future developments, not to existing, and will need adoption by the full council," Miller said. "But this will be a dynamic list so we can make changes as warranted."

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