Larchmont creates all-hazard mitigation plan

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Large trees at Harbor Island Park in the Village of Mamaroneck were uprooted and fell just after Hurricane Sandy last year. The Village of Larchmont is implementing an all-hazard mitigation plan to better prepare for such natural disasters. File photo

By ASHLEY HELMS

Typhoons and rock slides may never hit Larchmont, but that didn’t stop the village from creating an all-hazard mitigation plan to help secure government grants and prepare residents for a weather-related catastrophe.

The plan was drawn up with the help of regional engineering firm Woodard and Curran and approved by the state’s Office of Emergency Management.

The next step is it must be approved by FEMA before it can be put into effect.

Once the plan is implemented, Larchmont can receive a grant from FEMA for a power generator at Village Hall.

According to Anthony Catalano, senior vice president at Woodard and Curran’s White Plains office, FEMA approval usually takes about a month, but Larchmont is on the right track.

“So far, [FEMA] likes [the plan] and the process should be completed shortly,” Catalano said.

An all-hazard mitigation plan is a document that outlines and ranks all of the area’s potential natural disasters by their likelihood and provides a course of action to follow if they should occur.

Larchmont Mayor Anne McAndrews, a Democrat, said that the plan covers the “sun, moon and the stars” and that its framework has been helpful in characterizing the hazards that the village does face, including hurricanes.

Village Hall’s generator has been in operation since 1966 and it gave out after being used during Hurricane Sandy last year. The grant for the generator, worth about $125,000, will be given to village government once they have the all-hazard mitigation plan in place.

McAndrews said that, if another storm like Sandy occurs in the near future, Larchmont should be prepared by having the plan and a generator in place.

“We’ve been under the gun, time wise, to get this done. The deadline for approval is October or late September,” McAndrews said. “Our timing is appropriate.”

The surrounding municipalities either have an all-hazard mitigation plan already in place, or one is slated to be implemented in the next couple of years.

The Village of Mamaroneck passed an all-hazard mitigation plan in May 2012. According to village officials, Scarsdale and the City of Rye also have similar plans in place.

The Town of Mamaroneck cleared the way for an all-hazard mitigation plan by approving the action at a Jan. 3 town board meeting. The plan is due in October 2014 and will allow the unincorporated town, like Larchmont, to apply for special FEMA grants.

Creating Larchmont’s plan cost about $45,000, according to McAndrews, and she said that the plans are becoming a FEMA requirement for municipalities to implement.

The mayor said that the village’s emergency service members met with village management to iron out and identify as many disasters as possible, even though some of them may never happen in the area.

McAndrews said Westchester County is also implementing its own hazard mitigation plan with which Larchmont will comply.

“The plan is to have a uniform approach to these hazards with every jurisdiction to get FEMA or state funds,” McAndrews said.

Though they render many engineering services, Woodard and Curran also works with school districts and municipalities across the country to implement all-hazard mitigation plans, with which Catalano said municipalities are requesting help more frequently in recent years.

Due to the increase in violent storms over the past few years and the ability to garner grants more easily, Catalano said implementing an all-hazard mitigation plan is the smart thing to do.

“It’s all about being prepared,” he said. “You want to be smart and plan before you have these types of disaster events occur.”