CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Officials in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina's most populous community with 1.2 million residents, are looking for ways to reduce the area's costly vulnerability to disasters.
City and county officers will meet with state and federal officials next week to formally launch a new phase in their ongoing development of permanent plans to protect Charlotte/Mecklenburg from the damaging effects of both natural and man-made disasters.
Together with representatives of the Contingency Planning Association of the Carolinas, the business community and private citizens, they will sign an agreement joining Project Impact, a national initiative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
In the past, hurricanes and floods have swept the city, leaving residents homeless and causing damage in the millions. The full economic loss from Hurricane Hugo in 1989, including insured and uninsured property, damaged infrastructure and business closings, was estimated at close to $1 billion. The area also faces an identified earthquake risk.
FEMA Director James Lee Witt, who has launched Project Impact in 122 communities across the nation, will participate in the signing ceremony beginning at 11:00 a.m. Thursday, July 29, in the parking lot at Lowe's, 1100 Chancellor Park Drive.
Lowe's, a major building supplies retailer, is one of many corporate partners in the program, which relies on total community participation in identifying its vulnerabilities and developing measures to make it more disaster-resistant. Arson and terrorism are among the risks assessed.
Mitigation actions can range from floodproofing or elevating structures in flood-prone areas to improved warning systems, charting of hazardous chemical storage areas, fortifying structures against wind damage and buyouts of properties in areas that are repeatedly flooded.
Project Impact will bring the community together in understanding the hazards it faces and generate support for the steps to be taken to lessen their impact. In North Carolina, New Hanover County/Wilmington became a pilot Project Impact community in 1998 and Boone will sign on later this year.