City approves updated hazard mitigation, emergency management plan

ASHEVILLE – Local leaders say the community is best served during emergencies and national disasters when area governments work together, sharing information and resources under the unified goal of lessening risks and hazards to the public.

This type of cooperation has a name: hazard mitigation. On Tuesday, Asheville City Council approved a resolution adopting the latest update to the Buncombe County Hazard Mitigation Plan.

“Hazard mitigation” is defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as “sustained action that reduces or eliminates long-term risk to people and property from natural hazards and their effects.”

The local Hazard Mitigation Plan includes Buncombe County and the six municipal jurisdictions located within it: the City of Asheville, and the towns of Biltmore Forest, Black Mountain, Montreat, Weaverville and Woodfin.

The plan last went through a major update in 2010, according to Asheville Assistant Fire Chief David McFee.

“Our plan is extremely comprehensive,” McFee told Asheville City Council at the Sept. 13 meeting. “It’s designed to give us guidance in all emergencies and disasters.”

McFee said the plan provides a blueprint to the city council, city staff and the community on preparedness, response, mitigation and recovery.

It’s a “living document” that is reviewed and updated regularly to stay relevant to the community’s needs and to changing technologies, he said.

The preparation and adoption of a local Hazard Mitigation Plan is also a requirement for receiving many types of mitigation and post-disaster recovery funds, according to the plan document.

During a disaster, the Asheville Fire Department coordinates all resource needs through Buncombe County Emergency Management. The AFD, Building Safety, Engineering, and Finance departments in a disaster or major emergency would forward all damage reports to Buncombe County Emergency Management, which is charged with collecting the data needed for a countywide declaration of emergency, or to request a state or federal declaration of emergency for assistance.

The approved plan update is posted on Buncombe County’s website and can be viewed by following this link: