Hazard Mitigation Plan Update
Draft Plan Complete
On February 25, 2019, the Town Council authorized transmittal of the draft 2019 Local Hazard Mitigation Plan Update to the RI Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The draft can be found here:
After RIEMA and FEMA have provided comments and necessary changes are made, if any, the Plan will be brought back to the Town Council for final adoption.
On January 24th, 2018 the Local Hazard Mitigation Committee began considering an update the Hazard Mitigation Plan. The current plan Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan (available here) was adopted in 2011. Since the plan is required by FEMA to be updated and adopted every 5 years, it was time to begin the process again. The Local Hazard Mitigation Committee has met several times to discuss the natural and man-made hazards that affect the Town.
After receiving valuable input from community members who completed an online survey over the winter, the group discussed “What hazards keep people up at night?” and “What conditions will severely impact residents and infrastructure?”. These discussions resulted in the following list of the highest priority hazards:
- Coastal Erosion
- Flooding from heavy rain or snowmelt
- Flooding from rivers
- Flooding from coastal storm surge
- Groundwater and soil Contamination
- High Winds
- Snow Storm
- Offshore hazardous material release
- Rail Hazards (volatile hazardous material release)
Various other hazards such as brush fires, dam failures, drought and extreme temperatures will also be part of the larger discussion. but having a list of priority hazards helps focus our initial planning efforts.
Incorporating Climate Change
Changing climate conditions have also been incorporated into our current discussions. Rather than list those as separate hazards, this plan will highlight how climate changes may affect the other hazards we have identified. Considering this is a 5-year planning document, there will likely not be drastic increases in sea level between now and 2023. However, it is worth considering the future impacts in order to analyze long-term vulnerabilities and risk. The Committee needed to choose a future sea level rise scenario to help identify long-term vulnerabilities. Taking into account the life expectancy of roads, buildings, land use, and a typical 30-year mortgage, the Planning Board decided to advise the Committee to consider a 3-foot sea level rise scenario that included storm surge from a 100-year storm event.
What does that look like? Those levels would mean Matunuck School House Road on the backside of Green Hill Pond would be under 7 feet of water, most of Card Pond Road would be under 1 to 8 feet of water during a strong storm, and even in downtown Wakefield, the Mews Tavern could have flood waters 6 feet deep in the back parking lot. Explore the online mapping tool STORMTOOLS to check out other areas.
The Local Hazard Mitigation Committee has now begun to look at vulnerable community assets and identify current capabilities to reduce risk from some of the above listed hazards. Stay tuned for future updates!
If you’d like to learn more or have info to share, please contact Kaela Gray, Principal Planner, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 401-789-9331 ext. 1244.
- Aimee Reiner, Director of Administrative Services
- Chelsea Siefert, Director of Planning
- Craig Stanley, EMS Director
- Janet Freedman, RI CRMC
- John Blessing, Administrator, Union Fire District
- Jon Schock, Director of Public Services
- Joseph Geaber, Chief of Police
- Karen Beck, Landscape Architect, URI
- Kathy Schmitt, Experience Real Estate
- Kimberly O'Connell, South County Health
- Lance Whaley, Communications Superintendent
- Mark Healy, Police Lieutenant
- Maryanne Crawford, Chief Financial Officer, South Kingstown School District
- Nathan Barrington, Chief, Kingston Fire District
- Robert C. Zarnetske, Town Manager
- Theresa Murphy, Director of Leisure Services
- Wayne Pimental, Building Official and Zoning Enforcement Officer