County updating hazard action plan

Ellis emergency management office receives $300K FEMA grant

Staff report
Floodwaters cover a farm-to-market road between Waxahachie and Palmer in 2018. Ellis County recently received a $300,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to fund an action plan to mitigate hazards such as flooding.

After multiple instances of severe flooding in the area between Waxahachie and Palmer, Ellis County Emergency Management is incorporating updated flood control measures into its Hazard Mitigation Action Plan, among other improvements.

The county’s Hazard Mitigation Action Plan (HazMAP) is part of an ongoing process to identify and update deficiencies in natural disaster mitigation that is funded by a grant of over $300,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

In January, Ellis and Navarro counties were approved for a grant of $302,400 to be used over the next five years for improving natural hazard mitigation capabilities. FEMA shares approximately 75% of the improvement costs, leaving local jurisdictions with no more burden than $4,200 each to develop and implement the new HazMAP.

To minimize these costs, Ellis and Navarro counties are accurately estimating improvement needs by partnering with the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM). Both entities compile relevant regional data such as tornado frequency statistics, critical infrastructure maps, and projected population growth, while TDEM approves and disburses funding from FEMA.

“By working with [NCTCOG], we have a better representation of the specific updates that will be necessary,” said Ellis County Emergency Management Coordinator Samantha Pickett. “We also reduce the cost share to the lowest amount possible by coming together with other jurisdictions.”

Flood mitigation improvements to be addressed by the HazMAP include maintaining dam integrity, protecting lowline roads from water buildup, and expanding drainage canal systems. Once potential deficiencies are identified and fixed, Ellis County will be eligible to apply for further grant funding to repair roadways, install better emergency generators on critical infrastructure, and improve early warning systems for severe weather events. HazMAP plans are updated every five years to make necessary adjustments due to population and infrastructure changes in the county, but they are reviewed by TDEM annually for accuracy and compliance.

“This hazard mitigation plan allows us to analyze and address specific updates to our critical infrastructure in order to prevent future disasters,” said Ellis County Judge Todd Little. “Combined with our new public safety communications network, this hazard mitigation plan allows us to make great strides in achieving the highest possible level of preparedness for our citizens in Ellis County.”