Grant County Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan

Grant County, Wisconsin

Spurred by the 2001 Spring flood of the Mississippi River and the subsequent Presidential Disaster Declaration, Grant County Emergency Management submitted a successful grant proposal to FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to undertake a multi-hazard mitigation plan. The goal of this plan was to identify methods of reducing or eliminating loss of life and property damages that result from natural hazards, such as floods.

Vandewalle & Associates, in conjunction with Community Development Alternatives, worked with Grant County Emergency Management and the 52 towns, villages, and cities of Grant County to prepare hazard risk and vulnerability assessments and tailored mitigation strategies for each jurisdiction. The overall County mitigation plan was designed to meet all of the requirements of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2001.

Developing a better process. With a unique physical geography in Wisconsin’s driftless area and a diverse population, a one-size-fits-all mitigation plan would not work. Key to this project was a strong public participation process. With assistance from Grant County Emergency Management, V&A developed a unique public participation program that allowed local disaster history information to drive local mitigation planning strategies. This process is quite different than those followed by other mitigation planners. Rather than only relying on the data maintained by the National Climate Data Center and FEMA, the project team worked with volunteers from each participating municipality to identify the kinds of natural hazards that affect each community and to research the kind of damage that disasters caused. This locally generated information provided a more realistic historical account and damage tally of disaster events, which was substantially higher than that document by either FEMA or the National Climactic Data Center.

Plan components. V&As’ in-depth knowledge of Wisconsin planning legislation and extensive experience in land use consulting allowed us to create a variety of realistic mitigation strategies for the County including:

  • Land use strategies
  • Economic strategies
  • Natural approaches to mitigation
  • Identification of critical inter-jurisdictional issues that inhibited mitigation efforts
  • communication and project review strategies to support hazard mitigation efforts within existing processes

Results. With a better understanding of the financial and physical impacts of natural disasters, Grant County and the involved jurisdictions are now able to decrease vulnerability of residents who live in high risk areas, direct future growth away from high risk areas, and prioritize scarce funding for local mitigation efforts.