Milone & MacBroom Works with The Northwest Hills Council of Governments to Develop a Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan

Oct 21, 2020
Storm Isaias Damage Mobile

Heavy rain and wind, debilitating snowstorms and flooding are three natural events faced by towns in the Northwest Corner. The affect of recent Tropical Storm Isaias, which downed trees and power lines and left many without power, is just one example of how a weather event can affect a community.

The Northwest Hills Council of Governments, comprised of 21 towns in the Northwest Corner, has put its energy into creating hazard mitigation plans and reports over the years. This year, the NHCOG decided to take that work a step further and create a multi-jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan that would include individual assessments of each of the 21 towns, since each has its own unique challenges in storm management and recovery. The project is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“The plan will incorporate existing, separate hazard mitigation plans covering the NHCOG municipalities, with updates based on recent disasters, changes in risk and public input,” said Executive Director Rick Lynn.

The plan, he said, will include the risk from floods, winter storms, high winds from tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and dam failure, and identify actions communities can take to prevent damage from these natural hazards. It also will identify recent changes in local hazard risk, vulnerable elements in each community and hazard mitigation capabilities, Lynn said.

“We’ve prepared natural hazard mitigation plans in the past but this version is the first time we’re linking all 21 towns of the COG into one plan,” he said. “So there’s a basic plan, and then individual plans for each town, based on its own challenges. It’s a way to better identify risk and vulnerabilities.”

The NHCOG’s regional planner, Janell Mullen, is working with the engineering firm Milone & MacBroom on the plans. “It’s never been done for all 21 towns,” she said. “We’re doing separate plans for each town, updating recent disaster reports, and getting public input.”

The COG’s website offers a full review of the plans, Mullen said. “The visual component of this is very helpful, for people to understand the lay of the land and where your town fits in,” she said. “It’s a great resource.”

For Torrington, flooding makes the city vulnerable, Lynn said. “The Naugatuck River floods, or another smaller stream in the same area floods, and any homes or businesses or facilities that are in the flood plain become vulnerable,” he said. “If a major windstorm is coming through, and there’s an ice storm, that’s often when trees come down. The plan finds ways to quickly respond to wind damage, such as carefully pruning trees near power lines or critical facilities.”

Lynn said trees are a problem everywhere in the Northwest Corner. “It’s a tough one, because people love trees and want to keep them,” he said. “But when power lines come down and hit those trees, it’s a big problem.”

Mullen said the plan can help provide funding the next time a storm hits a small community and leaves it in the dark, for example. “The goal of this is to identify risks and mitigating measures, to lessen the severity and help towns be a little bit better prepared, and more proactive,” she said. “The next time, a town might have purchased generators to have backup power, and once the plan is prepared, there are opportunities for federal funding to support those types of things.”

NHCOG is asking for public participation in the planning process to make sure it addresses the needs of residents and visitors. There are a few opportunities for participation.

An interactive online Story Map has been designed to take residents through the hazard mitigation planning process and help visualize risks and adaptation options in the region. The Story Map can be accessed at

An online survey is available for the public to give input. The survey is expected to take about 10 minutes to complete, and survey-takers may skip any questions they don’t wish to answer. Residents can visit to take the survey.

The region will hold virtual public workshops where attendees can learn about hazard mitigation planning and speak directly with the consultants working on developing the HMP update. The first is scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 5. A link to the meeting will be available Nov. 4 at

Read the original article here.

© The Register Citizen, 2020