After months of researching, writing, and reviewing by Berrien County (MI)BOLDplanning, and other community stakeholders, FEMA has approved the county’s updated hazard mitigation plan 

All participating jurisdictions, including the cities of Benton Harbor, Bridgman, Buchanan, Coloma, New Buffalo, Niles, St. Joseph, and Watervliet; the townships of Bainbridge, Baroda, Benton Charter, Berrien, Bertrand, Buchanan, Chikaming, Coloma Charter, Galien, Hagar, Lake Charter, Lincoln Charter, New Buffalo, Niles Charter, Oronoko Charter, Pipestone, Royalton, St. Joseph Charter, Sodus, Three Oaks, Watervliet Charter, and Weesaw; and the villages of Baroda, Berrien Springs, Eau Claire, Galien, Grand Beach, Michiana, Shoreham, Stevensville, and Three Oaks, are now moving forward with plan adoption resolutions. The new hazard mitigation plan will serve the planning area for the next five years.  

Berrien County, as indicated by its Sherrif’s Office’s website, fully understands that disasters can cause loss of life, damage buildings and infrastructure, and have devastating consequences for a community’s economic, social, and environmental well-being. The county also knows that hazard mitigation is any action taken to lessen the impact of known hazards that cause disasters, whether natural, technological, or manmade. For Berrien County, these hazards include coastal/shoreline erosion, drought, extreme temperatures, severe weather, dam failure, infrastructure failure, terrorism, and water supply contamination.  

Like many hazard mitigation plans across Michigan and the country, Berrien County’s hazard mitigation plan includes four primary types of actions to reduce long-term vulnerability. These consist of:  

  • Local plans and regulations – plans, policies, or codes that influence how land and buildings are developed and built 
  • Structure and infrastructure projects – upgrading existing structures and infrastructure to protect them from a hazard or remove them from hazard areas; constructing manmade structures to reduce the impact of hazards
  • Natural systems protection – minimize damage and losses and preserve/restore the functions of the environment
  • Education and outreach programs – inform and educate citizens about hazards and ways to mitigate them

Specifically, these actions involve various mitigation projects to be addressed and completed during the plan’s five-year life cycle. Such projects include but are not limited to the enforcement of building codes; improvements to roadways, culverts, and dams; the acquisition or relocation of structures within floodplains; the deployment of warning systems; and continued mitigation, disaster recovery, and continuity of operations (COOP) planning.  

Of course, finding the physical and financial resources to complete such mitigation projects is challenging for any state, local, tribal, or territorial government. Fortunately, FEMA approval of the Berrien County Hazard Mitigation Plan ensures the continued availability of the full complement of Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Grants throughout the plan’s life cycle. The n