In 1998, Escambia County, the city of Pensacola, the town of Century and the Santa Rosa Island Authority were provided a federal grant through the (then) Florida Department of Community Affairs to develop a Local Mitigation Strategy. This was a state of Florida initiative implemented to help reduce the spiraling costs of disasters. The LMS identifies specific hazards – man-made, natural and technological – that could negatively impact our community and created a strategy to try and mitigate our community against those disasters.
What is mitigation?
Mitigation is the effort to reduce or eliminate the risks of injury and damage to people and property against potential disaster events. This mitigation can be through mitigation construction-type projects or through an educational outreach program to our community and its residents.
Some types of mitigation construction:
Educational programs to educate our community on things they can do to protect and mitigate their families, their employees and their property against potential disaster
The LMS established a group of public and private members of our community who have evaluated Escambia County and its potential hazards and created a guiding document that identified its strategy to mitigate our community against the identified hazards. From that guiding document, a prioritized project list was created that attempts to mitigate our community against hazards.
The guiding or planning document is just that – a guiding document. The LMS plan has no regulatory authority, but clearly identifies a strategy to mitigate our community from future natural disasters. The LMS plan provides suggestions and recommendations on how the county could improve regulatory standards in planning documents such as the Comprehensive Growth Management Plan. Recommendations could include mitigation concepts and ideas in an effort to build better moving into the future and accomplish what we have defined in our county mission statement: “To provide efficient, responsive services that enhance our quality of life, meet common needs, and promote a safe and healthy community.”
Since 1998, the LMS group has implemented several projects over the years and is proud of what it has accomplished in protecting and mitigating our community infrastructure. We maintain our completed project list to promote our successes and our efforts and to garner continued support in our efforts to mitigate our community moving into the future.
In 2000, the federal government passed what is now 44 CFR 201 & 206 (Code of Federal Regulations) that requires local communities across the country to formally create local mitigation strategies similar in concept to what the state of Florida created in 1998. However, the requirement is a voluntary requirement where communities must create and update their LMS documents and processes to continue to remain eligible for various pre- and post-disaster grant program funding opportunities. Should communities not wish to participate, they will merely not be eligible to receive a piece of what is projected to be $50 million each year in a nationally-competitive grant program. However, FEMA has created very detailed criteria that direct how the planning/guiding document will be created and maintained, as well as the detail of included data identifying the entire planning process. With these new requirements, the state of Florida and Escambia County have decided to participate in this process to remain eligible for various disaster grant programs. This update process will be very time consuming, which will hopefully produce a very comprehensive mitigation strategy taking advantage of current mapping technology with the Global Positioning System. The final product will better identify our hazards geographically and allow us to better estimate damages from a disaster event before disaster ever strikes. This will allow us to target our strategy on the most vulnerable infrastructure areas first.
The LMS group is made up of five members, including two officers, the chairperson, vice chairperson and a secretary, which are elected by the LMS members for a staggered two-year term and each with voting authority.
The LMS group has four technical support groups - working groups - that take on specific efforts to help the LMS board with guidance and concepts to the betterment of the community. The TSGs are seeking people to be a part of the LMS experience and process. The TSGs that are part of the process are as follows:
Planning/Plan Review Technical Support Group
Our primary LMS members are those government and quasi-government, nonprofit agencies who are eligible to apply for grant program funding as defined by the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, 44 CFR 201.2. Those agencies are:
Nonprofits and For-Profit Businesses
Our quarterly meetings are open to the general public and published, usually the second Tuesday of January, April, July and October. The general public is welcome to join our technical support groups or LMS board if they so desire and assist in our community mitigation efforts.
The current Escambia County LMS Plan was approved by FEMA in October 2020. The next update will be in 2025.
The mission of Escambia County government is to provide efficient, responsive services that enhance our quality of life, meet common needs and promote a safe and healthy community.
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