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Sunken canoes at Johnson's Beach during the 2019 flood.

Feb. 25 will mark the first in a series of public meetings being held to update Sonoma County’s hazard mitigation plan. The five-year update of the 2016 Sonoma County Local Hazard Mitigation Plan will have a more multi-jurisdictional approach.

According to Permit Sonoma’s website, the update will include Sonoma County; the cities of Santa Rosa, Cotati, Sonoma, Sebastopol, the town of Windsor; the Sonoma County Ag + Open Space District; the Timber Cove, North Sonoma Coast, Cloverdale, Sonoma County and Rancho Adobe fire districts; and both the Gold Ridge and Sonoma Resource Conservation Districts.

Hazard mitigation plans provide a profile of the community, a catalog of likely hazards — the county's 2016 plan notes floods, fires, landslides and earthquakes — and outlines plans, goals and progress when it comes to mitigating possible hazards.

“The Hazard Mitigation Plan assesses hazard vulnerabilities and identifies mitigation actions the county will pursue in order to reduce the level of injury, property damage and community disruption that might otherwise result from such events,” according to Permit Sonoma. “In addition, adoption of the plan helps the county remain eligible for various types of pre and post disaster community assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the state government.”

The plan update is being headed by a steering committee made up of community members who have emergency management knowledge. The public, however, is also encouraged to attend.

“Public involvement is an essential part of the planning process and members of the public from all over Sonoma County are encouraged to get involved,” reads a July 2020 press release about the launch of the plan update.

“Given the complexities of emergencies in Sonoma County, partaking in a collaborative planning approach with robust community engagement will allow the County to reduce future risk to people and property from natural hazards,” said Susan Gorin, then-chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, in the summer press release, “hazard planning is an absolutely essential component of keeping our community safe from potential disaster.”

As part of its plan update, the county launched a hazard mitigation plan survey last year. It’s available online here.

The first meeting, on Feb. 25, is being held over Zoom from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Members of the public in attendance can expect to hear information about the Hazard Mitigation Plan process, preview the project’s story map, as well as receive information about how to be involved in the plan update process. To get information about how to register for the public meeting’s Zoom, click here.

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