Why should Cambria have a local plan for mitigating hazards?
The short answer is that Cambria must have that approved plan so the community can qualify for certain kinds of grants to help pay for those mitigations, both before and after a natural disaster happens.
Bob Neumann and Sheri Eibschutz of Category Five Professional Consultants have developed the Local Hazard Mitigation Plan for the Cambria Community Services District. The consultants are shepherding the plan through an approval process that will make the document official.
Since early February, Neumann and Eibschutz been taking comments about the plan from agencies, groups and the public and making changes based on that input.
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The duo explained the document briefly at a March 2 community forum. Nearly two dozen people were in the audience, which might be considered sparse attendance. However, Eibschutz said she and Neumann have been surprised and pleased by the level of Cambrians’ involvement in their plan’s preparation.
She explained that when Category Five prepared San Luis Obispo County’s hazard mitigation plan, and held a similar informational forum for it, “the only person in the audience was Ken” Topping of Cambria, former CCSD general manager and county planning commissioner, and a noted expert on hazard mitigation.
Topping was at the Cambria forum, too.
The next step is getting approval for the plan from the Cambria Community Services District Board of Directors’ March 23 meeting. After that happens, the consultants will seek approval for the plan from state and federal emergency agencies.
Some of the Cambria plan’s eight goals, 18 objectives and 55 recommended mitigation actions are simple common sense, but even those must be written into the plan, just in case.
For instance, Goal 1 is “promote understanding and support for hazard mitigation by key stakeholders and the public within the community.”
The stated objective of that goal is to educate those people to increase not only their awareness of those hazards, but what their opportunities might be to fix or lessen those hazards.
Other goals in the plan presented March 2 to protect the community from potential, naturally occurring hazards and disasters include: protecting future development; building support and commitment to minimize CCSD’s own vulnerability; minimizing the level of losses and damage to people, critical facilities and infrastructure caused by flooding, landslides, wildland fires, earthquakes and tsunamis; and limiting risk to and impacts from hazardous-material incidents.
Most of the mitigations require action by governmental agencies and groups. Many of them also are expensive.
For instance, among the mitigations the plan recommends are: improving maps and data sets about the community and its ability to withstand natural threats; finding ways to improve existing automatic- and mutual-aid agreements with Cal Fire and neighboring first responders; preparing a districtwide Continuity of Operations Plan and training all essential staff members on their roles and responsibilities in case of disaster or emergencies; improving the “purple pipe” system to deliver recycled water for firefighting (which would include hooking it up to the wastewater treatment plant); funding for four Cambria Fire Department firefighters on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; automating the West Village flood pump; buying a fire engine designed to fight brush fires; and replacing outdated rescue equipment, including the Type 3 water tender.