Doña Ana County

FEMA APPROVES UPDATED ALL-HAZARDS MITIGATION PLAN

FEMA APPROVES UPDATED ALL-HAZARDS MITIGATION PLAN

After a two-year planning process, efforts to improve and update the County’s existing All-Hazards Mitigation Plan have paid off with approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“Developing this mitigation plan ensures our continued eligibility for emergency federal funding to repair, rehabilitate and construct hazard mitigation projects,” said Doña Ana County Flood Commission Engineer Supervisor Michael Garza.  “FEMA’s recent approval of our updated plan makes Doña Ana County eligible to receive post-disaster funding after a presidentially declared disaster, making it easier to address urgent and potentially hazardous situations in communities that experienced severe weather. Disaster caused by weather-related hazards can be a dam failure, flash flooding, severe wind, earthquake, drought, extreme heat or cold, hail, lightning, wildfire and others.”

The goal of the mitigation planning effort is to identify the extent to which each jurisdiction is vulnerable to a number of natural hazards, then identify and prioritize actions to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to life and property from high- risk hazards. “Mitigation is not always about how we respond to emergencies like floods and wildfires, because once it occurs, the damage is already done. Mitigation is more about how we as a community can prevent or lessen the impact of such events when they do occur in our county,” Garza said.

A core component of the mitigation planning process involves a risk assessment of the natural hazards most likely to occur within each jurisdiction. This involves analyzing historical data, taking inventory of at-risk infrastructure, and ultimately assessing the vulnerability to these hazards. Most importantly, we then must establish goals, actions and projects that mitigate the associated risks. “The development of this mitigation plan is vital to ensure that historical infrastructure is preserved, protected, and that new growth is safe and sustainable,” Garza added. “We are certain that these hazards will never disappear, but we must continue to do all we can to minimize the overall negative impact they have on our community.”

In November 2019, the Doña Ana County Flood Commission Office and the Office of Emergency Management joined forces with multi-jurisdictional planning and steering committees comprised of representatives from Doña Ana County, the cities of Anthony, Las Cruces, and Sunland Park, the Town of Mesilla, the Village of Hatch, the Elephant Butte Irrigation District and New Mexico State University.  They met regularly throughout 2020, as representatives from each jurisdiction provided input on behalf of their communities, which helped to review and update the existing 2012 All-Hazards Mitigation Plan. The recent FEMA-approved plan is adopted through 2026, at which time a new update will be required.

“All of us in the Planning and Steering Committees thank members of the public for providing input describing their experience with natural hazards and adding comments into the plan,” Garza said. He explained that all methods of public input received throughout the planning process were included in the report’s appendices. Throughout the planning process, the committees received more than 125 public input solicitations.

Participating jurisdictions, along with consultants at JE Fuller, completed a final version of the plan update in February, and received final FEMA approval of the plan in June 2021.

For questions or more information regarding the All-Hazards Mitigation Plan, please contact Michael Garza, Doña Ana County Flood Commission Engineer Supervisor at 575-525-5553 or michaelg@donaanacounty.org.

To review the final plan adopted, please visit the Doña Ana County Flood Commission webpage at https://www.donaanacounty.org/flood/mitigation.

For more information about Doña Ana County, please visit www.donaanacounty.org.

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