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MANITOU SPRINGS, CO - After a close call with the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012 and subsequent flooding and debris flow in 2013, the City of Manitou Springs, Colorado realized that it needed to take a more proactive approach to preserve its historic structures and unique natural assets. This small community relies heavily on year-round tourism, but its location and environmental conditions make it vulnerable to natural hazards. These include steep topography, loose soils, multiple creeks and natural drainage channels, and proximity to forested open space.
BALTIMORE, MD - The city of Baltimore, Maryland has found itself increasingly at risk from harmful levels of snow and rain, heat waves and sea level rise. A historic port city, Baltimore is also vulnerable to the effects of climate change. As its population grows, keeping everyone safe is more of a priority than ever. Hazard mitigation is often separate from other planning efforts, but there is an increasing need to consider it at the same time as other planning and development efforts.
FRANKLIN, PA - Hazard mitigation plans are guides for reducing risk. However, communities often lack the resources to put their plans into action because of low staff capacity, financial resources, or a lack of existing relationships. Franklin County, Pennsylvania faces these challenges and more as they grapple with urban and rural communities, and both a mountainous and agricultural landscape.
MARSHFIELD, MA - The town of Marshfield, Massachusetts, is a coastal community with rivers and wetlands. About 40% of the buildings in town are in Special Flood Hazard Areas along the coast. The town has experienced large flood events, including a seawall breach in 2015 during Winter Storm Juno. High risk and high flood insurance costs prompted town officials to better plan for disasters to help their residents.
PORTLAND, OR - Oregon residents still remember the devastating 1948 Vanport flood, when 19,000 people were left homeless, disproportionately families of color. Recent planning efforts set out to ensure that history won’t repeat itself. The 2012 “Portland Plan, a Strategic Roadmap for the City”, contains a vision for equity that all city bureaus and offices are responsible for pursuing. This vision required a fresh look at the “2010 Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan” to work toward a future where vulnerable populations do not carry disproportionate burdens when recovering from natural disasters.
SNOHOMISH CO, WA - To qualify for disaster-related federal grants under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Snohomish County needs to maintain and update their Hazard Mitigation Plan. The plan covers several jurisdictions. Naturally there are some competing interests, potential for duplication of efforts, and different timing requirements involved with this process.
Local jurisdictions and nonprofit organizations have compiled resources and offered video conferencing services for students and employees with disabilities who are learning or working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Accessibility of COVID-19 Information-Sharing and Public Communications for People with Disabilities
People with disabilities must have equal access to COVID-19 information as those without disabilities. State and local jurisdictions, as well as healthcare organizations, can enhance communication access through visual symptom check cards and accessible videos. These videos may include American Sign Language (ASL)/Puerto Rican Sign Language (PRSL), captioning, voice-over, or audio description. Televised press conferences have also included qualified sign language interpreters.
During natural disasters that coincide with a pandemic, shelter providers can coordinate with disability service organizations to ensure the accessibility of congregate and non-congregate shelters.
Amid the increase in counseling need during the COVID-19 pandemic, crisis counseling providers can train staff on disability-related topics, such as etiquette and accessible communication, to enhance the reach of their services. Crisis counseling services can include auxiliary aids and services for individuals who may have access and functional needs.