Progress continues to identify, reduce hazards for Colorado Springs community

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency ManagementThe City and County are consolidating their Offices of Emergency Management in an effort to optimize staff resources, establish a single point of contact during major incidences and enhance communication both during and after an event. The new office, the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management (PPR-OEM) will support operations during a disaster or emergency in El Paso County and Colorado Springs.Because disaster knows no jurisdictional boundaries, we can most efficiently prepare for an emergency and respond to one by coordinating our efforts on a regional basis. The establishment of the PPR-OEM will allow the county and the city to more effectively coordinate and assist first responders in an emergency as well as preparing the government and the community for a disaster. has released its annual update to the Hazard Mitigation Plan for the City of Colorado Springs. The annual report serves as a progress update in the City’s continued efforts to identify, assess and prioritize goals and actions for mitigating the effects of natural and human-caused hazards in Colorado Springs.

The report tracked 61 action items to evaluate progress in mitigating several hazards ranging from wildfire, severe weather, flooding, geological, and human-caused. Highlights from the 2018 report include:

Achieve and maintain a Class 5 Rating from the National Flood Insurance Program

The City was notified in October 2017 that it received a Class 5 rating from The National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System. The new rating increased the discount Colorado Springs residents would receive on flood insurance from 20 to 25 percent, saving property owners approximately $500,000 in premium reduction each year.

The Combined efforts of City staff developing a comprehensive stormwater program and robust emergency operations program, along with the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department’s administration of the Regional Floodplain were key to assembling the thousands of pages of documentation required for evaluation and the subsequent move to the new class 5 rating. A continuation of all these efforts is key to maintaining the current rating which will be audited by FEMA in 2019, as part of its triennial rating process.

Develop programs and allocate resources to reduce fuels in potential wildfire areas

The Colorado Springs Fire Department, City Forestry Division and Colorado Springs Utilities continue fuels reduction activities and neighborhood programs including neighborhood chipping, creating defensible space around homes using residential stipends, prescribed burning in remote areas, and hazard fuel reduction projects in common areas and open spaces.

Ensure the effectiveness of large-scale evacuation plans through full-scale tests that involve the public. The City conducts annual neighborhood evacuation drills to provide residents a realistic experience of evacuating their homes in an emergency. Drills include meeting at a reunification area to receive information and resources.  Residents participated in an evacuation drill in September 2018 and the Pikes Peak Regional OEM plans to conduct its 2019 drill in June. 

Coordinate the acquisition of eligible properties damaged by geologic hazards with property owners and state/federal programs.

The City has worked with participants of Colorado State’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to secure grant funding totaling more than $10 million to acquire eligible properties damaged by landslide activity in 2015. Property procurement is underway to acquire and demolish the most damaged properties to eliminate further hazard through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

Evaluate ways to reduce or eliminate erosion and sloughing on stream banks

Work has been completed along several Colorado Springs creeks to secure banks eroded by recent flooding and the wildfire burn scar.  In 2018, the City began implementation of its Stormwater Infrastructure Master PlanA plan for the development of a portion of the city that contains proposed land uses, a generalized transportation system, and the relationship of the area included in the plan to surrounding property. that includes an assessment of more than 250 miles of natural channels within the city limits. Monitoring of channel stability and evaluation of adjacent infrastructure will facilitate timelier, cost-effective mitigation and prioritization of work.

Pursue additional grants to implement risk reduction projects

Following the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) guidelines in maintaining a Hazard Mitigation Plan, it also establishes a blueprint to institutionalize new and existing programs, processes, and procedures to continuously reduce the impacts of hazardous events in the city. The Hazard Mitigation Plan was prepared pursuant to the requirements of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 to achieve eligibility for FEMA hazard mitigation grant programs including:

·         Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP)

·         Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM)

·         Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA)

·         Severe Repetitive Loss (SRL)

·         Repetitive Flood Claim (RFC)

The public may view the 2018 Hazard Mitigation Strategy Annual Report by clicking here.

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), anyone requiring assistance to view the plan or provide comment should make the request to the Pikes Peak Region Office of Emergency Management, 370 Printers Parkway, Colorado Springs, CO 80910, or e-mail oem@springsgov.com, or by calling 719-385-5957.

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