Updated Hazard Mitigation Plan Addresses Climate Change and Sea Level Rise

Hingham Harbor

July 6, 2022 By Carol Britton Meyer

The recently- completed, 121-page Hazard Mitigation Plan for the Town of Hingham assesses the potential impacts to the town from flooding, high winds, winter storms, brush fire, geologic hazards, extreme temperatures, drought, and invasive species while also identifying the projected impacts of a warming climate for each risk.

"Warming temperatures will fuel changing precipitation patterns, sea level rise, and an increasing frequency and intensity of severe storms," according to the plan, which outlines nearly a dozen goals -- in large part to help ensure that critical infrastructure sites are protected from natural hazards and to protect existing residential and business areas from flooding.

Other goals include educating the public about natural hazards and mitigation measures; encouraging future development in areas that are not prone to natural hazards; preparing to respond to various natural hazard events; considering the potential impacts of future climate change; and working with surrounding communities to ensure regional cooperation and solutions in dealing with multiple hazards, such as coastal erosion.

"Hazard mitigation planning reduces loss of life and property by minimizing the impact of disasters," according to Deputy Fire Chief Louis Lachance. "The process begins with state, tribal, and local governments identifying common natural disaster risks and vulnerabilities in their area."

After identifying these risks, long-term strategies are developed for protecting people and property from similar events. "Mitigation plans are crucial to breaking the cycle of disaster damage and reconstruction," he said.

Federal regulations require that hazard mitigation plans be updated every five years in order to qualify for certain hazard mitigation grants. The final plan -- approved by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency -- was presented to -- and approved by -- the Select Board recently.

The town contracted with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council last July to update Hingham's plan.  "We formed a fantastic team of Hingham employees from various departments who collaborated with MAPC to review and update the current plan," Lachance explained. "It was a joint effort that was paid for with a grant."

The process included a number of team -- and two public -- meetings, which allowed residents and business owners to ask questions and to share concerns that could be incorporated into the plan.  "Neighboring communities were also notified of the plan updates and invited to the public meetings," Lachance said.

The Hingham Hazard Mitigation Plan is posted at https://www.hingham-ma.gov/387/Emergency-Management.

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