We live in an amazing area that does not have many natural disasters and will likely never see things such as hurricanes or tsunamis. Hazards do exist in Chaffee County though, and could possibly affect our citizens and infrastructure. Hazard mitigation planning is the process by which we identify hazards that threaten a community, assess their likely impacts, mitigation goals are set, and appropriate strategies/actions for reducing risk are developed, prioritized, and implemented. One result of this plan are projects for hazard mitigation, which is defined as any sustained action taken to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to human life and property from said hazards. Chaffee County, the City of Salida, Town of Buena Vista, and Town of Poncha Springs, along with a number of our special districts and other stakeholders are in the process of developing our multi-jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Nationwide, taxpayers pay billions of dollars annually helping communities, organizations, businesses, and individuals recover from disaster. Some disasters are predictable and, in many cases, much of the damage can be reduced or even eliminated. FEMA has targeted natural disaster loss reduction as one of its primary goals. The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 requires local governments to have a FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan to maintain eligibility federal disaster assistance and hazard mitigation funding programs. The 2016 Chaffee County Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan will address a comprehensive list of hazards. In addition to these benefits, the plan will give your emergency response agencies, county and municipal department’s maps, and other tools to help recognize risks to populations and the environment.

The Chaffee County Office of Emergency Management has taken the initiative to develop this plan update under the direction of Emergency Manager Lisa Ortega. Using grant funding, the county has retained the professional services of Tetra Tech, a firm that specializes in hazard mitigation and emergency management planning. The county and consultant organized a Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee to facilitate development of this plan update. Upon preliminary approval by the Colorado Office of Emergency Management and FEMA Region VIII, the contractor and committee will present the plan to the Chaffee County Board of County Commissioners and the participating town boards and city council for formal adoption.

An integral part of this process is gathering public input and support. Please take the opportunity and time to complete a 5 minute survey about hazards in Chaffee County, how prepared we are as individuals, and as a community. Community input and your involvement is instrumental in the development of a mitigation plan that truly reflects the perceptions and needs of Chaffee County residents. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ChaffeeHMPCommunitySurvey. This survey will also be available to complete in paper form and mail to Tetra Tech EM Inc. c/o Madison Ericson 216 16th Street, Suite 1500 Denver, CO 80202 or by email to: [email protected] You may pick up this paper form at the following locations: Town of Buena Vista Administration Building, Town of Poncha Springs Administration Building, Chaffee County Administration Building (outside of Commissioner's meeting room), and City of Salida Administration Building. For more information on this project and how you can be involved, contact Lisa Ortega, 719-539-6856, [email protected]

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