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Tyrone Boro recently approved for FEMA federal disaster assistance with Blair Co.

The Borough of Tyrone teamed up with other local communities back on February 11 to adopt the Blair County Hazard Mitigation Plan, which was officially approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at the end of last month.
Spurred by the impact of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the borough received information from FEMA a year later that communities had two choices – creating its own hazard mitigation plan, or joining with its respected county to produce a plan to prepare for hazards.
Tyrone Borough decided to proceed with Blair County’s efforts, which now opens the doors for federal disaster assistance for five years from the date of September 30, 2008.
Blair County citizens, business leaders, and officials recognized the need to develop a long-term approach to reducing the county’s vulnerability to hazards like floods, tornadoes, winter storms, and other natural disasters.
In 2006, the Blair County Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee (HMPC) began the process to identify hazards in the county and create a strategy to reduce damage.
Borough Manager Sharon Dannaway said that it was important for Tyrone to enter into a hazard mitigation plan due to the borough being flood prone. She noted that communities only get federal help if it is available, but the borough wanted to be protected if the money was there.
The Blair County Hazard Mitigation Plan received a “satisfactory” rating for all required criteria. The plan was reviewed based on the criteria contained in 44 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 201, as authorized by the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA2K). Those criteria addressed the planning process, risk assessment (including hazard identification), mitigation strategy, and plan maintenance process requirements.
The plan was endorsed by FEMA and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA).
Dannaway explained that the Blair County Commissioners and other local officials worked with the Blair County Department of Emergency Services, which received assistance from a consulting group, URS Corporation in Pittsburgh to draw up the plan.
“They said these are the things you need to do to put your plan together as a county,” said Dannaway. “Then they looked at us and said this is the information that you need to provide in your plan to be part of the county’s plan.”
However, the DMA2K also includes a provision to encourage communities like Tyrone to continuously strive to improve their plans and resulting mitigation action. Therefore, the plan must be reviewed, revised if appropriate, and resubmitted for approval within five years of approval in order to continue to be eligible for Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).
The HMGP provides grants to states and local governments to implement long-term hazard mitigation measures after a major disaster declaration.
Dannaway said that under Blair County’s plan, borough officials had to plan scenarios of disasters that could occur that would make the borough eligible for funding, which mainly consisted of flooding and intense snow storms.
Tyrone Borough Fire Marshal J.R. Watson was intricate in the development of the scenarios in which the borough recognized as possible disasters.