Skagit Valley Herald
BURLINGTON — The federal government, tired of having to pay
for recurring damage during major disasters, is telling cities
in Skagit County to prepare for the worst — or local
homeowners could be left high and dry.
Regulations passed in February by the Federal Emergency
Management Agency call for all cities and counties to have a
plan to avoid damage from natural disasters by Nov. 1, 2003.
If local government doesn’t have those plans, homeowners,
businesses and government agencies won’t get federal money to
help rebuild and repair after a natural disaster, including an
earthquake, windstorm or flood.
Burlington, Skagit County, the Town of Hamilton and Dike
District 12 are jointly applying for $100,000 from the Federal
Emergency Management Agency to develop a plan to handle such
The agency has about $1.8 million available through the state
Department of Emergency Management for hazard mitigation
Burlington’s planning commission recommended this week that
the city apply for the grant. For Burlington, flooding is the
If local governments don’t have an approved plan, the
federal government would still help with flood fighting. But it
won’t help to rebuild afterwards, according to Joan Sterling
of the state Department of Emergency Management.
“Repetitive loss is a common problem with flooding,”
The all-hazard mitigation plans include taking a tally of all
natural disasters that could occur in an area, a detailed
description of where the area is vulnerable to a disaster, a
summary of how an area would be affected by each disaster, how
much damage from the disaster would cost and a plan to avoid
That plan could include raising homes in one area of the city
while relocating homes in another, more vulnerable area,
Skagit County already tried to apply for the grant, but was
told it wasn’t eligible because it doesn’t comply with the
state’s Growth Management Act, said Tom Sheahan, director of
Skagit County Emergency Management.
Still, a joint application makes more sense, Sheahan said.
The cities’ plans have to fit in with the county, state and
federal plans, so local coordination now avoids having to go
back and alter plans later, he said.
“This is really a massive project,” Sheahan said. “We
need to have police and fire and public works and planners from
each city to design this plan.”