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Outer Banks Hazard Plan Seeks Public Input

Flooding, like this in Manteo, is one of many identified threats that could potentially impact the Outer Banks in the plan. Photo: Cory Hemilright

Reprinted from Island Free Press

BUXTON — Residents garnered more information Wednesday on the development of the Outer Banks Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan during a lightly attended meeting.

The meeting was held to inform the public about the planning process, the identified hazards for the area, and to outline additional opportunities for public involvement.

Though the crowd was small, it included members of the Hatteras Island Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, representatives from Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative and Dare County, and other individuals who play a role in disaster preparation or recovery.

“I think having you all here is very helpful. You are the most vulnerable part of the country, and I hope you continue to help us look at what’s going on (with the plan), and continue to help us formulate our goals and objectives,” said Dare County Emergency Management Director, Drew Pearson.

The public meetings are part of the ongoing process by the county to update the Dare-Currituck County Hazard Mitigation Plan, which allows the counties to be eligible for FEMA disaster relief assistance. Updated every five years, last revised in 2015, the plan is a multiple-phase project that identifies natural hazards, develops strategies to reduce or eliminate the loss of life and property damage, and educate the community about these hazards and loss reduction strategies.

Wednesday’s meeting provided an overview of the 10 steps that are required in the process to update the plan, and also covered the identified hazards that could potentially impact the Outer Banks. For example, landslides or dam failures are not hazards that need to be considered or that require strategies in the plan, but more obvious hazards like coastal-related issues, drought, flooding, hurricanes and tropical storms, and wildfires are included. A complete list of identified hazards can be reviewed online.

Attendees asked questions about corresponding hazards that should be considered, such as mosquito-related diseases that stem from standing water after a storm, or transportation for Buxton and Frisco residents should a new inlet be formed, and residents were cut off from emergency ferry services.

The ensuing conversation was a give and take of information among residents and county officials about disaster prep and recovery, and though there were only 10 residents in attendance, Pearson noted it was the highest attended meeting of the three community meetings that were held in Buxton, Manteo and Kill Devil Hills. “This blew our previous attendance out of the water,” said Pearson, “and we’re proud of the residents who are concerned about the Outer Banks.”

One component of the process is the solicitation of public input on the hazards that affect the Outer Banks, and the appropriate responses to these hazards, which is what launched the public meetings, as well as an online survey requesting the community’s insight.

Roughly 600 completed surveys have been received so far, which is a strong response per the plan’s organizers. The public survey will be available online until June 15.

The Dare-Currituck County Hazard Mitigation Draft Plan for 2019 is estimated to be completed in September, where it will then be available for public review.

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This story is provided courtesy of the Island Free Press, a digital newspaper covering Hatteras and Ocracoke islands. Coastal Review Online is partnering with the Free Press to provide readers with more environmental and lifestyle stories of interest along our coast.

About the Author

Joy Crist

Joy Crist is a Hatteras Island resident since 1998 and a writer and columnist with the Island Free Press. Her work has also appeared in a number of regional Outer Banks and statewide websites and publications.