05/13/10 — Changes would bolster county's emergency plan

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Changes would bolster county's emergency plan

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 13, 2010 1:46 PM

Creating an alarm system to warn communities of approaching tornadoes, encouraging residents to take advantage of the Code Red alert system and compiling a list of people with special needs to help emergency workers are the major changes to the county's revised Multi-jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan.

The Wayne County Planning Board Tuesday night endorsed the proposal and will forward it to the board of commissioners for their approval.

Work on a revision of the plan got under way last June when the Planning Board told county Planning Director Connie Price to begin work on the program. A steering committee was formed with representatives from six of the county's municipalities -- Mount Olive, Seven Springs, Walnut Creek, Pikeville, Eureka and Fremont.

The Planning Board approved a draft of the plan in September. Since that time, Price has been meeting with the town boards and town planning boards to review the plan.

"I have met with all of the towns participating in the plan. All of them are satisfied with the plan the way it is," Price said.

The commissioners are expected to hold a public hearing in June before sending the proposed changes on to the state and FEMA for their approval. Once that approval is received, the plan goes back to the municipalities for their approval.

The update, or at least the evaluation of the plan, is required by the state and FEMA every five years. The county's plan was reviewed in 2005.

The plan will be shared with Goldsboro and surrounding counties, including emergency management offices in those counties.

The plan aims to reduce the impact of natural disasters, most notably flooding, although hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms and ice storms are concerns as well.

Recommendations include prohibiting the development of public and private critical facilities, such as fire stations, within the 100-year and 500-year flood plains. It adds that existing facilities in those flood plains be relocated, if possible, to mitigate potential damages.

Seven Springs, which was devastated by flooding following Hurricane Floyd in 1999, did not participate in the 2005 plan. Rather, the state did the town's plan. The state did not do that this time around so town officials chose to participate in the county plan.

One of the plan's goals is to participate in the buyout program to try to get homes out of the flood plain.

Seven Springs is handled somewhat differently than the other municipalities because of its close proximity to the Neuse River. Residents there would be encouraged to elevate their homes because if everybody in town participated in the buyout there wouldn't be a Seven Springs anymore, Price has said.

When the county signed the contracts for the flood plain property buyouts in 2000 following Hurricane Floyd, one of the stipulations included preparation of a Hazard Mitigation Plan.

In other business Tuesday, the board approved the following subdivision plats:

* Kearney Lots, final, two lots, Vail Road, Buck Swamp Township, Kent Kearney, owner/developer

* Jimmy Jackson Ward, final, one lot, Jimmy Ward Road, Indian Springs Township, Jimmy Ward, owner/developer

* Timberlake preliminary, 20 lots, Dollard Town Road, New Hope Township, J&N Developers, owner/developer

* Inez L. Whitfield, final, two lots, Indian Springs Road, Indian Springs Township, Michael Whitfield, owner/developer

* Ella Rose Arnette, final, one lot, Indian Springs Road, Indian Springs Township, Ella Rose Arnette, owner/developer

* Eric W. Brooks, final, one lot, Pikeville-Princeton Road, Buck Swamp Township, Eric Brooks, owner/developer

* Bermuda Run section, one final, four lots, Conover Road, New Hope Township, KW2 Inc., owner/developer.

The plat final for Longbranch Acres section one was removed from the agenda. Price said streets and other work needed to be completed before it could be considered.