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As part of a federally mandated process, Clinton has begun to update its plan on what to do before, during, and after a natural disaster, along with several other regional towns.
On June 5, the Board of Selectmen appointed nine members to the National Hazard Mitigation Planning Steering Committee: Dom Morelli, Catherine Zamecnik, Scott Harley, Aman Singh, Art Keiver, Grant Kokernak , Brian Manware, Mike Neff, and Vincent DeMaio.
First Selectmen Christine Goupil called the steering committee “a very interesting and very important committee.” The committee is working in conjunction with the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments (RiverCOG), a regional planning organization that assists 17 area towns, including Clinton, with planning initiative.
RiverCOG Executive Director Sam Gold said that the plans are used to assist with what he called “known hazards.”
“They are the types of events that are predictable and places we know are problems. For example, around here, we’re talking about hurricanes, winter storms, and flooding,” he said.
Gold said that the plan was last updated five years ago, and that every five years a new plan must be updated per Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations. Gold said the group is forming one master plan that will cover almost all the towns in the RiverCOG, with each town the subject of an individual chapter. Gold said that some of the upgrades to the plan include making sure the software that models potential damages from storm is up to date, updating any demographic or population shifts, and updating the plan on any new developments or projects such as the new Morgan School that was not open last time the plan was updated.
The appointed planning and steering committee of each town will work directly within each town to implement whatever changes are needed. Gold speculated these could be things like widening the culvert of a river or fixing the elevation of a road.
“We find projects that mitigate problems so when they hit, they’re not that bad,” Gold said.
A federal grant has been applied for that would cover approximately 75 percent of the cost of the project, which estimated would cost about $4,000 for each town.
Gold said that the RiverCOG will issue a request for proposals, seeking firms to do the plan. Each firm will be asked to estimate how long the process will take, as part of its proposal. The first selectmen of each town will vote on the selection of the firm at some point in the future.
“The benefit of this plan is identifying actions that will make the next disaster not as bad and help towns access money for projects,” Gold said.
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