BERLIN — With the frequency and ferocity of storms predicted to increase in the future and the associated sea level rise and flooding expected to come with them, Berlin officials on Tuesday voted to adopt the Worcester County hazard mitigation plan for 2014.
Each jurisdiction in Maryland is required to have an approved hazard mitigation plan in effect to prepare for and reduce the effects of natural disasters such as hurricanes, storms, tornadoes and floods, for example. Worcester County officials recently passed its hazard mitigation plan, which essentially identifies known trouble spots and prepares to proactively and reactively handle natural disasters.
The municipalities in Worcester are required to have their own approved hazard mitigation plans in place and three towns, including Berlin, Snow Hill and Pocomoke, have elected to piggyback on the county’s larger plan. The hazard mitigation plan drafted and adopted by Worcester County includes preparations tailored to each municipality along with Ocean Pines. Because of its unique nature, the town of Ocean City is in the process of adopting its own separate plan.
On Tuesday, Worcester County Emergency Planner Tom Kane outlined the highlights of the county’s hazard mitigation plan and pointed out a few sections unique to Berlin. The federal Disaster Act of 2000 made hazard mitigation plans a requirement and each jurisdiction is required to adopt a plan and update it every five years. Tied to hazard mitigation plans somewhat is eligibility for federal disaster relief funds and grants for proactive disaster prevention projects.
“It’s a requirement for Homeland Security planning,” he said. “We do it every five years, The good thing is, the municipalities are eligible for funds through this. For example, Berlin got some funding for generators.”
While the county’s plan includes all of the unincorporated areas in Worcester, there are extensive sections specific to the participating towns.
“Each municipality is important,” he said. “When we go through this plan, we want to make sure we don’t leave anybody out.”
Mayor Gee Williams said Berlin continues to grow, which illustrates the importance of updating the hazard mitigation plan.
“Nobody has a crystal ball, but we’re experiencing reasonable commercial and residential growth,” he said. “There could be areas not include in this plan that might become part of the plan down the road. That’s why its reviewed every four years to see what changes are necessary.”