This is an old article with an updated time stamp.
Braintree is not likely to face the business end of an earthquake, but residents are intimately familiar with flooding, hurricanes and winter storms.
To better prepare the town for natural disasters, a team of town officials, representing a wide range of departments, including fire, police, planning, health and electric, met on Thursday morning to update Braintree's Hazard Mitigation Plan. By law, towns must have an updated plan in place to qualify for a variety of federal grants, including one that local officials are aiming to use for flood protection at Staten Road and Dickerman Lane.
The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), a regional agency representing 101 cities and towns around Boston, worked with the Local Emergency Planning Committee in 2005 to create a plan enabling the town to receive money from programs that have sent more than $200,000 to Braintree.
"You guys are already well on your way," James Freas, a regional planner with MAPC, told the officials gathered in the lower level of the 90 Pond St. building. The plan's details, he stressed, are not meant as a response to hazards, but "rather they are long-term strategies to reduce risk and damage."
Updating the plan includes two staff meetings and two public hearings before documentation is sent to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). The first meeting for public input was Thursday. A second will be scheduled sometime in the near future by the planning department and the mayor's office, said Amy Carey, a health code enforcement officer and secretary of the emergency committee.
Once MEMA gives its approval, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will examine the plan and, likely after several months, provide conditional approval, contingent on a favorable vote by the .
At that point Braintree will be eligible for, among others, a federal grant that would reimburse the town 75 percent of the cost of enhanced protection at a flood-prone area off Common Street, Carey said.
Freas said it is important to have such a wide representation of town agencies because as the committee works through the update, identifying prevention measures already in place such as elevated buildings and storm shutters, it will have a better idea of what needs to be improved.
"Local information is far better than state or federal in terms of where it actually floods," Freas said.
Last March Braintree was hit with more than nine inches of rain in just a few days, causing the Monatiquot and Farm rivers to overflow and creating widespread traffic problems and damage. More information about local flooding response can be found here: http://www.townofbraintreegov.org/FloodHazard.htm.
The Federal Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, which requires that communities have an approved plan in order to receive hazard reduction grants, is part of a series of emergency laws dating back to the consolidation of disaster response agencies in the 1970s.