Hazard Mitigation Plan Finished By Star Valley

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It took a planning team nearly four months to catalog and organize three decades of disasters, but Star Valley has finally completed a draft of its multi-hazard mitigation plan.

The public can view the plan at town hall and make comments through Feb. 5.

A hazard mitigation plan identifies the areas of town that could be affected by a fire, flooding or other disaster, and how to plan and prevent them.

Although it is impossible to predict when or where a natural disaster will occur, the town can take action to reduce the threats and possibly eliminate them.

Most recently, in August 2007, heavy rain caused Houston Creek to overflow in Star Valley and flood about 20 homes or trailers. Obviously, the town, which sits in a floodplain, faces the threat of future flooding. This plan allows the town to receive pre-disaster grants to clear brush from the creeks and possibly mitigate the threat of future flooding.

The hazard mitigation plan, created by a nine-member planning team, identified four natural disasters Star Valley is most susceptible to. They are drought, flooding, thunderstorms and wildfires.

The two most likely and expensive disasters the town faces, are flooding and wildfires. According to the plan, there is a potential loss of $2.5 million for flooding within Star Valley and a potential loss of $14.1 million for wildfires. On top of the damage to roads and homes, if a disaster were to occur, Star Valley has six facilities or infrastructures that could be impacted, with a total replacement cost of $2.7 million.

One of the projects the planning team identified that would lessen potential property damages in the event of a disaster is clearing debris and vegetation from the Goat Camp, Houston and Mayfield Creeks and Lockwood Gulch.

This would cost around $150,000 and take one year to complete.

If Star Valley’s plan is approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has 30 to 60 days to approve it after public review, the town may receive federal and state mitigation funds to complete the project or similar ones.

Work on the disaster plan started in September, when Mayor Chuck Heron, along with council member George Binney, Gila County Supervisor Shirley Dawson, county flood control engineer Darde de Roulhac, hazard mitigation planner Dwight Nield, mitigation planning program manager Susan Wood, Hellsgate Fire Department Chief Gary Hatch and Forest Service representative Ed Armenta got together to start the plan.

Seventy-five percent of funding for the planning process was provided through a grant from FEMA. The State of Arizona, through the Arizona Division of Emergency Management (ADEM), provided the matching 25 percent of funding to complete the plan. Residents can view the plan at Star Valley’s town hall during business hours.

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