Cass County is taking steps to minimize the damage from natural disasters and is seeking the public’s input in updating its Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan.

The Cass County Office of Emergency Management is working with U-Spatial at the University of Minnesota Duluth to update the county’s plan. Also working on the update is a planning team of representatives from county departments, local municipalities, school districts and other key stakeholders, such as utility providers.

The Cass County plan is a multi-jurisdictional plan that covers Cass County, including the cities of Backus, Bena, Boy River, Cass Lake, Chickamaw Beach, East Gull Lake, Federal Dam, Hackensack, Lake Shore, Longville, Pillager, Pine River, Remer and Walker. The plan additionally covers the portion of Motley that is in Cass County.

The plan also incorporates the concerns and needs of townships, school districts and other stakeholders participating in the plan.

“Hazard mitigation planning is a central part of our emergency management program,” Chad Emery, Cass County emergency management director, said in a news release. “Understanding the natural hazards that can cause serious impact to our communities and taking action to reduce or eliminate the impact of future disasters makes us more resilient. Hazard mitigation helps us to break the cycle of damage and repair caused by things like flooding, ice storms and severe wind events that can damage property, stress economies and threaten life safety in our county.”

Examples of hazard mitigation include improvement of roads and culverts that experience repetitive flooding; construction of safe rooms at campgrounds, public parks, mobile home parks or schools to protect lives in the event of tornados or severe wind events; burying power lines that may fail due to heavy snow, ice or wind storms; ensuring timely emergency communication to the public through warning sirens and mass notification systems; and conducting public awareness and education campaigns to help people be prepared to take safe action before, during or following a hazard event.

Some mitigation activities may be eligible for future Federal Emergency Management Agency Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant funding.

As part of the planning process, Cass County is seeking feedback from residents and businesses from across the county to incorporate into the plan on the following questions:

  • What are the natural hazards posing the greatest risk to the community?

  • What experiences can be shared from previous disaster events?

  • What concerns exist, and what sorts of mitigation actions or projects would help to reduce the damages of potential future events for personal property, the community and/or the county as a whole?

Comments, concerns or questions should be submitted to Cass County Emergency Management. There will be additional opportunities for public feedback throughout the planning process. A draft of the plan will be posted on the county website for public review prior to submission of the plan to the state of Minnesota.

The Federal Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 requires counties to update their plan every five years to maintain eligibility for FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant programs.

For more information, contact Emery at 218-547-7437 or chad.emery@co.cass.mn.us.