Worcester, MA (December 13, 2017) - Work is now underway to update Worcester's Hazard Mitigation Plan, which will help guide local efforts to reduce damage from future natural disasters. The City of Worcester invites residents, business operators, property owners, and other interested parties to add their insight and local knowledge to the planning process by completing a brief online survey, which is available on the City's website or at cmrpc.org/hazard-mitigation-planning. All are encouraged to participate - this is an opportunity for members of the public to help provide input to protect Worcester from and make our community more resilient to floods, droughts, winter storms, and other natural hazards. Public participation in the online survey will help the City to better identify hazards, prioritize mitigation strategies, and communicate with local residents and businesses. The survey is available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.
As the planning process proceeds over the next several months, at least two public meetings will be held to present and seek additional public input into the draft and final plans. Final adoption of the plan is contingent on approval from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and requires acceptance by City Council.
Worcester's Hazard Mitigation Plan is being developed by a team of City officials and staff with technical assistance from the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC) and input from other key stakeholders. Similar plans are being developed for other central Massachusetts towns as well. "As we have seen during recent storms in Puerto Rico, Texas and elsewhere, the best time to protect the community is before a disaster," said Adam Menard, a planner with CMRPC. "Public participation in the survey will help Worcester develop appropriate strategies to mitigate the impacts of future natural disasters." "Keeping the residents of Worcester safe is always our top priority and having an up to date Hazard Mitigation Plan is vital to fulfilling that mission," said City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. "The City of Worcester is committed to coordinating efforts with the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission, MEMA and FEMA, to help minimize the effects of natural disasters locally. We encourage residents to participate in the survey and have their voices heard as part of this important planning process."
This planning process is funded by a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) grant from the FEMA through MEMA to CMRPC. The purpose of HMGP is to help communities implement hazard mitigation measures following a Presidential major disaster declaration. Hazard mitigation is any action taken to reduce or eliminate long term risk to people and property from natural hazards. Mitigation planning is a key process used to break the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage. Adoption of the final plan will keep Worcester and its residents eligible for enhanced pre- and post-disaster funding from FEMA. Updates to the plan are required every five years.
Further, this planning process is a requirement of Worcester's participation in FEMA's Community Rating System (CRS) Program. The CRS Program recognizes community floodplain management activities that exceed National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) minimum standards and allows policyholders, located in certain flood hazard areas, of participating communities, such as Worcester, to receive a discount on their flood insurance premiums. Information from the public survey and the hazard mitigation planning process will be used to help maintain the City's
designation as a Class 9 community in the CRS Program and ensure that flood insurance remains available and affordable in the City. For more information about the City's participation in the CRS Program or to learn how you can protect your property from flooding, please contact the City's CRS Coordinator.