For Immediate ReleaseJuly 30, 2020
$250,000 grant to go toward local disaster prevention
San Rafael, CA – Whenever Marin County is under imminent threat of a natural disaster or has been unlucky enough to fall victim, emergency plans are deployed to help save lives and property. In addition to those vital steps, there is another plan designed to proactively reduce the impacts of natural disasters through projects and regulations that improve public safety.
Local emergency planners recently received a boost when the Board of Supervisors accepted a $250,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to enhance the process for the next LHMP update. The funding will be split between the Marin County Community Development Agency (CDA), the Marin County Fire Department, and the Marin County Department of Public Works.
Required by law, the LHMP was first installed in 2006 and must be updated every five years. Having an LHMP in place makes Marin County eligible for federal emergency relief and disaster mitigation funding in the aftermath of a disaster. The next iteration of the LHMP will include more robust wildfire, flood loss and sea level rise analyses, and outline plans for helping elevate homes in low-lying areas, drainage and berm improvements, seismic retrofitting, and methods to prevent infrastructure failure.
“This grant will further strengthen a unified countywide approach to hazard mitigation, something most counties in California do not have,” said CDA Planning Manager Jack Liebster. “It will also empower us to help prevent and avoid disastrous consequences, not just plan for the aftermath.”
After each disaster statewide, more funding becomes available to qualified counties to reduce disaster impacts in the future. The 2015 wildfires in Butte and Lake counties resulted in funding for a new Marin pilot program to elevate homes in floodplains. The 2017 Oroville Dam spillway crisis led to funding for levee upgrades in the bayside Santa Venetia area of unincorporated San Rafael. The 2018 wildfires and mudslides in Santa Barbara are providing funding for seismic retrofits at Marin Center.
The 2017 North Bay Wildfires presented a close-to-home case in point for hazard mitigation planners. The 2018 version of the LHMP was being finalized in the months after the fires, and it wasn’t possible to incorporate fresh lessons learned from that event. Still, just having an LHMP in place led to FEMA funding being available for preliminary work on flood improvements in Marin City. The updated LHMP will include lessons learned from those fatal and devastating blazes in Sonoma and Napa counties plus Marin’s assistance to those who fled.
The Marin LHMP team included participation from each town and city in the county. Thomas Jordan, a coordinator with the Marin County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services, said that type of teamwork is rare.
“Most County LHMPs are not as holistic,” he said. “Our collaborative approach not only avoids ‘swiss cheese planning’ at the operational area level of local government, but it opens up opportunities to do more multi-jurisdictional projects. Those are critical because hazards do not respect city and town borders. Because of the economic uncertainty we face due to the COVID-19 pandemic, coordination between jurisdictions is needed more than ever.”
Jack LiebsterPlanning ManagerCommunity Development Agency
3501 Civic Center DriveSuite 308San Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-6278Email: Jack LiebsterCommunity Development website