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Troup County recognized as StormReady

At the Troup County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Michael Strickland, director of Troup County Emergency Management Agency, said Troup County had been re-recognized as StormReady by the National Weather Service. This recognition will last until April 30, 2025.

“This is a voluntary designation that a lot of counties try to achieve,” Strickland said. “It serves several purposes. It makes sure that the community is taking steps proactively to ensure the safety of all citizens and visitors to the county by having a 24-hour warning point that monitors the weather and sends out alerts to the public.”

Strickland said the county has a fully functioning Emergency Operations Center and “multiple ways to receive weather warnings from multiple sources.”

“And I can assure you as the EMA director [that] when these storms hit, and my wife will attest, my phone goes crazy because I have so many apps I’m using to make sure I monitor the weather adequately, with the National Weather Service being one of them,” he continued. “As weather events come through, thunderstorm warnings, tornado watches, things like that, impending bad weather, I really am trying to be as proactive as I can to send out information via email to a lot of parties in the county for them to disseminate themselves to make sure that everybody is taking the proper steps internally to monitor the weather and be ready for it.”

Strickland said he goes to civic clubs, the senior center, church groups, and anywhere else he can talk to people about being weather aware using tools such as weather radios and apps.

The criteria to receive the StormReady designation includes “having a local 24-hour warning point and an emergency operations center, having multiple ways of receiving NWS warnings, being able to monitor local weather/river conditions, having multiple ways of alerting the public, promoting public readiness through community seminars and presentations, having a formal hazardous weather plan, having trained spotters, conducting periodic drills / exercises, [and] interacting with their supporting NWS office.”

Strickland said being designated as StormReady could reduce the county’s rates in the National Flood Insurance Program.

He said he didn’t know when Troup County had previously achieved StormReady status.

Additionally, Strickland also said he had come before the board of commissioners to seek approval to submit an application for a grant to update the Troup County hazard mitigation plan. The board approved his request.

“This is a grant that is administered by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and Homeland Security in partnership with FEMA,” he said. “The hazard mitigation plan is required to be updated every five years. It was last updated in 2018 and runs through the year 2023.”

Strickland said that the last time the plan was updated, the county contracted with a firm, which Strickland said he wanted to do again.

“These firms specialize in coming in, kind of managing the process, managing the meetings, collecting, compiling all the information and putting the final report together, along with myself and representatives from multiple county departments and the three cities in Troup County.”

Strickland said the grant would have a matching component.

“The federal and state pick up 79% of the cost of the grant with the local share being 21%,” he said. “The projected cost for this for the local share would be approximately $8,000. I would budget for this in the fiscal year 2022 to 2023 budget, not this current budget year … I have talked to the three cities. They are in support of this.”

Strickland said there would be many meetings for citizens, departments, and stakeholders to give their input on the hazard mitigation plan update.

He explained that the hazard mitigation plan is meant to identify and deal with common events that could impact Troup County such as inclement weather, traffic incidents and railway incidents.

County Manager Eric Mosley said the hazard mitigation plan is “almost a prerequisite” for many of the grants the county applies for through organizations such as GEMA and FEMA.

“You have to have one of these active,” he said.

Mosley added that the plan would allow for a greater reimbursement in the case of a disaster.

Also at the meeting, Troup County Community Development Director Troy Anderson asked the board to approve initiating the process to develop the county’s 2021 Capital Improvements Element annual update to submit to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The board approved his request.

“As you may recall, the Georgia Development Impact Fee Act requires the municipality or county to prepare an annual report describing the amount of any development impact fees collected, encumbered, and used during the preceding fiscal year,” Anderson said.

“This report is part of our annual audit process. The second critical element for this update is to complete an annual schedule of capital improvements for Troup County since impact fees are not currently adopted for collection. This year’s process will be very similar to years past.”

The board also voted to lift a hiring freeze so the Juvenile Court could hire a full-time community resource coordinator, as requested by Court Administrator Michelle Bowman.

“This position is responsible for developing and guiding Juvenile Court programs and services, monitoring effectiveness of programs, securing grant funding, and ensuring the court is compliant with the funding requirements,” says a meeting agenda packet document. “The coordinator will represent the court on numerous community-based committees, authorities, work groups and projects as well as participate in collaborative planning and decision-making with other staff across the organization.”