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Effective Public Outreach and Engagement

Challenge

A good hazard mitigation plan assesses a community's risk and prioritizes solutions to address that risk. It is created by community experts with input from various stakeholders including the public-those who live and work in the community. However, getting the community to engage in the hazard mitigation planning process and provide meaningful feedback can be a challenge.

Solution

The Mitigation Planning Team in Christian County, Missouri, understood the importance of gaining public input and knew the value of working with trusted local partners to create a thoughtful plan to engage the public.

The Details

Christian County used an online survey to find out how members of the public saw their risk. The community received a great response. In fact, 453 people provided input. The team was able to sort the survey information by hazard to help community planners understand how their residents prioritize mitigation. Public feedback was incorporated into the mitigation plan's risk assessment, where appropriate, to emphasize and give context to hazard risk determinations. The input was then used to identify and rank possible mitigation projects.

Planner Thomas Cunningham credits the high number of survey responses to the partnerships the team created with school districts and local community leaders. In many cases, people received the request from someone they knew, including local officials, which made them more likely to respond. A link to the survey was posted on partner websites and social media platforms.

Links to the survey also went out in newsletters and as notices to the parents of schoolchildren. Sending the survey home with school children was particularly effective; it produced the single largest source of completed surveys. Investing the time to build partnerships and understand the best ways to communicate with community members can result in great outcomes for local mitigation planners.

Hazard Summary by Jurisdiction

All local jurisdictions in the county are at risk to flood hazards; however, as demonstrated in Table 3.23 exposure of assets near SFHAs varies among jurisdictions. Communities such as Clever, Highlandville, and Sparta have limited floodplains within the jurisdiction and are likely at lower risk for damaging events. However, all of these communities can be impacted by flooding of major roads and low water crossings in the areas proximate to their corporate limits. Due to previous flood events and general frequent flooding, some county bridges may need to be replaced.

The most as-risk areas in Christian County are unincorporated and hold the highest number of structures that are most vulnerable to flooding. Jurisdictions with mapped floodplains, a history of frequent flooding, and exposed assets should be analyzed and flood-proofed when possible to mitigate damages from future events.

Community Comments on Hazard

Of the 453 respondents of the survey …

  • 15 said they had been impacted personally by flooding
  • 134 felt that flooding was highly likely to impact their community in the future
  • 47 felt that flooding would have a catastrophic impact if one were to hit
  • 214 felt there would be at least a critical impact

Respondents were very supportive of flood-prone property acquisition and localized flood reduction projects, and somewhat supportive of flood-prone structure elevation.

(Excerpt from Christian County Multijurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan, Flood Hazard Profile)

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Last updated November 10, 2021