County seeks input on natural disaster

Whitman County uses grant to create hazard mitigation plan

Washington+Labor+and+Industries+to+investigate+emergency+response+to+the+flooding+that+occurred+on+Apr.+9+on+North+Grand+Avenue+between+Dismore%E2%80%99s+and+the+UPS+Customer+Center.+.+

RACHEL SUN | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Washington Labor and Industries to investigate emergency response to the flooding that occurred on Apr. 9 on North Grand Avenue between Dismore’s and the UPS Customer Center. .

The public can now comment on Whitman County’s hazard mitigation plan draft which prepares the county for natural disasters. The plan will address droughts, earthquakes, flooding, dam failures, landslides and wildfire. The comment period ends on Feb. 11.

Robin Cocking, deputy director of Whitman County’s emergency management, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded Whitman County a $65,000 grant in February 2019 to help create the hazard mitigation plan.

She said the grant helped hire a consulting company based out of Tacoma called Bridgeview Consulting, LLC.

The federal government will pay for about 75 percent of the costs and Whitman County will pay for the other 25 percent, Cocking said.

The county’s emergency management team invited agencies from around the county to participate in the hazard mitigation process, Cocking said. The agencies who agreed to help attended a preliminary meeting in October.

Cocking said Whitman County partnered with the cities of Endicott, Pullman, Oakesdale and Colton, as well as the Whitman Hospital and Medical Center.

“All the partners talked about what they felt they need to plan for,” she said.

Some agencies involved in the current planning process were also involved in the process in 2015, she said.

The planning process started in May. The drafts of the plan were completed Jan. 10 and are available for public review, she said.

The county is required to prepare a hazard mitigation plan under the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, according to an emergency management press release.

Cocking said the county revisits the hazard mitigation plan every five years to see if adjustments need to be made. Public input also is collected every time it is revisited.

“I’ve participated in my third renewal so it’s not a new process,” she said.

The plan includes information about different county agencies, such as the population of different cities, evaluations from the Whitman County Treasurer’s Office and information about previous damages caused by disasters.

The Whitman County Treasurer’s Office assessed the total value of the hospital facilities to be $48,500,000, according to the report.

Some of the past hazards in Pullman included flooding in 2019, 1998, 1996, as well as a winter storm in 2009 that cost the city $63,928.67 in damages, according to the report.

Both volumes of the plan are available at the Whitman County website. The public can review the plan and submit any comments to Robin Cocking through email at Robin.Cocking@whitmancounty.net, or through call at (509) 397-5608.