DARKE COUNTY — On Wednesday, the Darke County Emergency Management Agency’s (EMA) Hazard Mitigation Committee conducted its second meeting, with the purpose of reviewing and updating the county’s 5-year plan for submission to state and federal agencies in order to obtain grants.
The focus of Wednesday’s meeting was to answer the question: “What has changed in the last five years?”
Mike Henderson of Mote and Associates scrolled through elements of the existing plan, which was last revised by the committee in 2011. He presented to committee members a current profile of Darke County, including its population, its agriculture, and its industries.
Darke County Commissioner Mike Rhoades took issue with the estimated county population figures, which showed a declining number of people, saying that people were not fully participating in the federal census.
“There’s old guys saying ‘I’m not going to let [the government] know what I’m doing,’” he said. “They’re not filling out the census reports. That needs to be made public as it has a bearing on what kind of revenue we get back in for disaster plans.”
Participants largely agreed the county’s industrial and business bases have expanded since the last 5-year plan was written, pointing out both the establishment of new businesses and preexisting industries within the county which have expanded or have announced expansion plans.
As well, the committee provided examples of improved and new infrastructure, including road, water and sewer construction in the county since implementation of the past plan.
Flooding is one of the most serious natural disasters which occur in the county, a fact brought home by Lonnie Miller, a New Madison farmer, whose home and fields have suffered from a series of floods. While told the committee itself has no power to provide direct relief, Henderson said it helps to have this information in hand and it may be used to gain help through disaster grants from the state and the federal government.
“We’ve identified similar problems out in the county,” Henderson said. “Our mission here is to know about these issues so we can put them in the plan, document them, so everyone is aware there’s an issue out there.”
During the period from September 2012 to September 2017, Henderson said the county had 74 days in which the county suffered from some type of weather event, resulting in approximately $386,000 in damages.
The committee’s next meeting is February 14 at 10 a.m. at the Darke County EMA building. Sessions are open to the public.
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