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Local News

March 13, 2013

Otsego plan aims to tame nature

Flooding is the most costly natural hazard facing Otsego County, according to a 508-page draft report released this week that outlines hundreds of local ideas to soften its effects.

The draft of the All Hazards Mitigation Plan was released Monday by the Planning Department. It eventually will be submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and — if approved by FEMA and all of the participating towns — will form the basis for seeking funds for projects intended to blunt nature’s fury.

“It’s required by FEMA in order to be eligible for hazard-mitigation grants,” Erik Scrivener of the county Planning Department said.

The plan identifies 10 hazards thought to be the most likely to strike the county: extreme temperatures, hurricanes, tornadoes, winter storms, earthquakes, landslides, droughts, floods, wildfires and dam failures.

But flooding is the greatest threat, it says, with annualized losses of nearly $2 million. The next highest threat — at an annualized cost of about $300,000 — comes from winter storms, it says.

The county, municipalities and stakeholders came up with hundreds of proposals to address those hazards, most of them involving flooding, that occupy 266 pages of the draft plan.

The city of Oneonta, for example, suggests a “program for clearing debris from bridges, drains, culverts.”

It, like many of the towns and villages, also wants to identify high-ground sites at which displaced residents can be housed for the short and long terms in the event of a flood.

But not all of the proposals are so obvious. The county and the town of Maryland, for example, want to map and monitor beaver dams because they can contribute to flooding.

“In the plan, we’ve identified mitigation actions,” Scrivener said. “Those are for every municipality. And we also have stakeholders in this plan, and they’ve identified actions at their local levels to prevent further damage.”

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