The West Virginia Emergency Management Division hosted a workshop April 19 at the West Virginia Conference Center in South Charleston for state and local agencies to head off disasters or, as one presenter said, solve problems before they become problems.
Specialists from FEMA Region 3 engaged with state and local officials on how to create plans to reduce or eliminate the impacts of emergencies caused by hazards such as floods, landslides, fires, and cyberattacks.
The workshop offered guidance, strategies, and resources to help agencies prepare to update state and regional hazard mitigation plans for 2023.
In addition to staff from state Emergency Management and the West Virginia FEMA Integration Team (ot WVFIT), participants included members of the state Department of Environmental Protection, the Division of Forestry, the State Resiliency Office, regional Planning and Development Councils, state Floodplain Managers, the West Virginia University GIS Technical Center, the National Flood Insurance Program, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
James Young, Disaster Field Coordinator for the WVFIT, said, “It was encouraging to see so many local, state, and federal partners come together to discuss mitigation planning.”
“This collaborative effort will help to identify priority mitigation projects that can reduce future risk and improve resiliency in the state,” he said.
The presence of so many stakeholders is a crucial element of the planning process, as it allows for exchanging ideas and establishing the state’s vision and priorities for mitigating disaster risk moving forward.
“Making a plan without the right tools is like making spaghetti without a pot,” said WVEMD Planner and Hazard Mitigation Officer Tim Keaton. “You have to get the right people at the table.”