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Missoula County Officials Quietly Prepare For Emergencies

photo by Peter Christian

In 2011, Missoula County adopted a pre-disaster mitigation plan, and in order to comply with FEMA and other federal regulations, the plan must be updated every five years.

Missoula County Disaster and Emergency Services Director Adriane Beck chaired a public meeting this week  to discuss what a team of officials had been planning for in the past four months. Disaster scenarios were ranked in order of probability and the ability of the city and county to mitigate the event.

“We go through a calculated priority risk index,” Beck said. “That includes the probability that a hazard could occur, its severity and magnitude, and the warning time and duration of those particular hazards.We were then able to rank those hazards that we feel are most impactful to our community.”

Beck outlined the top five disaster scenarios for the Missoula area.

The big five, number one is wildfire,” she said. “Number two is hazardous materials incidents which entails those that might occur on the interstate as well as those by rail. Following that are flooding, severe weather and drought and communicable disease.”

Beck said the overall draft plan was released this week so that public comment can be collected. There is a link to the study on the Missoula County website, or a hard copy of the plan is available in the Disaster and Emergency Services office.

“Having such a pre-disaster mitigation plan makes our community eligible for federal funds following a presidential disaster declaration,” she said. “It’s a way to have disaster mitigation plans at the ready so that we can get the funding necessary to be better prepared and more resilient in case of a hazard.”

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