The process of updating Grand Forks County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan got started at a meeting held at the Grand Forks Public Safety Center, on the evening of Wednesday, Feb. 12.

The mitigation plan is required by federal law and needs to be updated every five years. Grand Forks’ plan expired in January. The plan, when ultimately approved by the state on behalf of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will allow the county to apply for federal grants to carry out projects designed to reduce the loss of life or property in the event of a variety of emergency situations, from floods and fires to cyber attacks .

The meeting was attended by about 20 representatives from the fire department, public health department and county and local governments, among others.

“A bridge, a culvert, a dike, a road being raised, a natural snow fence where they plant a bunch of trees and then create a natural snow fence out there,” are some of the projects the members need to consider as they look at the plan, said Derek Hanson, president and CEO of Heartland Consulting Group. The group was hired to assist Kari Goelz, the county’s emergency manager, to prepare the update.

“These meetings are required; they are not optional,” said Goelz.

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She said hiring a consultant, who knows what the FEMA requirements are and can get the plan done in a more timely manner, was necessary.

“There's a lot in this process and then there's the rewrite, and that's where they're going to come in,” she said. “Because we're going to be right on top of having to deal with the flood, and we’re not going to have time get it done.”

The next meeting has been set for Monday, March 2, at 6:30 p.m., in the Public Safety Center, at 1220 S. 52nd St.

“By pre-planning and mitigating some of these things, you can save some huge dollars,” said Hanson.