Hazard Mitigation Plan
CHEMUNG COUNTY MULTI-JURISDICTIONAL HAZARD MITIGATION PLAN UPDATE 2025
PUBLIC SURVEY #1: HAZARDS
The Chemung County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan is required for the County and each of its municipalities to remain eligible for certain grant funding programs. The plan covers mitigation of natural hazards and is required to be updated every five years.
Natural Hazard Mitigation planning is defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a necessary step toward disaster risk reduction:
“Hazard mitigation planning reduces loss of life and property by minimizing the impact of disasters. It begins with state, tribal and local governments identifying natural disaster risks and vulnerabilities that are common in their area. After identifying these risks, they develop long-term strategies for protecting people and property from similar events. Mitigation plans are key to breaking the cycle of disaster damage and reconstruction.”
Mitigation differs from Emergency Response measures in that Emergency Response measures are generally the immediate, short-term actions taken to attempt to control and correct hazardous conditions for the purposes of life safety and preservation of property. Mitigation Actions implement long-term strategies that will reduce or eliminate the impact of future disasters.
Example: During a severe summer storm, several inches of rain falls in a short period of time causing flash flooding. A pipe under a roadway is overtopped and washed out, causing damage to the roadway and surrounding area. The emergency response measures could include closing the roadway to traffic and attempting to clear debris that might be diverting the flash flood waters from their normal channels. The roadway can have temporary measures put in place to get the roadway open again for safe travel. After the flash flooding has subsided, an assessment of the flooding damage determines that if the same sized pipe is reinstalled, the same flooding conditions and damage will occur again in the next heavy rain event. To mitigate the flooding damage (lessen or prevent the same or worse damage in the future), the municipality makes a permanent repair to the roadway, installing a larger diameter pipe that is able to allow more water to flow through during heavier rain events, helping to prevent future washouts and damage.
Following is the list of Natural Hazards as created and defined by FEMA:
• Avalanche: a mass of snow in swift motion traveling down a mountainside. This is not considered a hazard of concern in Chemung County.
• Climate Change: refers to “changes in average weather conditions that persist over multiple decades or longer. Climate change encompasses both increases and decreases in temperature, as well as shifts in precipitation, changing risk of certain types of severe weather events, and changes to other features of the climate system. Some consequences Chemung County residents could see include increases in the intensity of severe weather conditions (i.e. worsening of severe thunder storms and floods, more intense and longer duration of heat waves and droughts). Chemung County is required to consider this risk as a hazard of concern to qualify for future funding opportunities.
• Coastal Flooding: when water inundates or covers normally dry coastal land as a result of high or rising tides or storm surges. This is not considered a hazard of concern in Chemung County.
• Cold Wave: a rapid fall in temperature within 24 hours and extreme low temperatures for an extended period. This does occur in Chemung County and is currently grouped with other hazards considered under the “Winter Storm” category.
• Drought: a deficiency of precipitation over an extended period of time resulting in a water shortage. This does occur in Chemung County and this risk is expected to increase with Climate Change. It is a future consideration under the “Climate Change” category.
• Earthquake: a shaking of the earth's surface by energy waves emitted by slowly moving tectonic plates underneath the earth's surface. Chemung County is in the very low risk category, making it rated as not a hazard of concern in Chemung County.
• Epidemic/Pandemic: The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and other International Organizations classify epidemic/pandemic as a natural hazard. An epidemic generally refers to a sudden increase in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected. A pandemic refers to an epidemic that spreads over numerous countries or continents. In the United States, we usually see an annual epidemic of influenza, general during the colder months of the year. The COVID-19 pandemic will have global impacts for years to come. Epidemic/pandemic can include human illness; zoonosis (animal illness); blight or other agricultural or plant diseases. Chemung County and its municipalities may give this risk consideration in the 2025 update based on feedback from stakeholders and the public.
• Flooding: in general, flooding is when an overflow of water inundates normally dry land. Flood water can be caused by many sources including rising water in an existing waterway such as streams, creeks, rivers or drainage ditches; ponding of water at or near the point where rain fell or where drainage structures like storm drains are not functioning properly due to debris or some type of blockage. Flash Flooding is a specific type of flooding usually caused by heavy or excessive rainfall in a short period of time, generally less than 6 hours. Flash floods are usually characterized by raging torrents after heavy rains that rip through river beds, urban streets, or steep drainage ways. Flash flooding can occur within minutes or a few hours of excessive rainfall. They can also occur even if no rain has fallen, for instance after a levee or dam has failed, or after a sudden release of water by a debris or ice jam. This does occur in Chemung County and is considered by many to be the highest ranked hazard in Chemung County and all its municipalities.
• Hail: a form of precipitation that occurs during thunderstorms when raindrops, in extremely cold areas of the atmosphere, freeze into balls of ice before falling towards the earth's surface. Hail ranked as “approaching severe” is generally defined by the National Weather Service as one-half inch or more in diameter (marble sized), with one inch diameter hail (quarter sized) being considered “severe”. This does occur in Chemung County and is currently grouped with other hazards considered under the “Thunderstorm” category.
• Heat Wave: a period of abnormally and uncomfortably hot and unusually humid weather typically lasting two or more days with temperatures outside the historical averages for a given area. This does occur in Chemung County and this risk is expected to increase with Climate Change. It is a future consideration under the “Climate Change” category.
• High Hazard Dams: There are numerous dams in and upstream of Chemung County that could impact residents if they were to fail. Some local dams are rated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Dam Safety Unit as “Class C High Hazard Dams”. This classification does not refer to the likelihood that a dam would fail, but rather means if the dam were to fail, the consequences of the impounded water being released could cause widespread serious damage to homes, highway and infrastructure, commercial and industrial operations, etc. Chemung County is required to consider this risk as a hazard of concern to qualify for future funding opportunities.
• Hurricane: a tropical cyclone or localized, low-pressure weather system that has organized thunderstorms but no front (a front is a boundary separating two air masses of different densities), with maximum sustained winds of at least 74 mph. While Chemung County can receive the “remnants of a Hurricane or Tropical Storm” (which is currently included in the “Thunderstorm” and “Flooding” categories), we are too far from the coast to receive the direct impact of the sustained winds, which FEMA considers for this hazard. Due to our location being sufficiently inland from the coast, it is not considered a hazard of concern for Chemung County.
• Ice Storm: a freezing rain situation (rain that freezes on surface contact) with significant ice accumulations of 0.25 inches or greater. This does occur in Chemung County and is currently grouped with other hazards considered under the “Winter Storm” category.
• Invasive Species: an introduced species (plant, insect, animal) not native to an environment that becomes harmful, adversely affecting the environment, economy and/or human and animal health. Chemung County has experienced adverse effects from invasive species, including the Emerald Ash Borer that has caused widespread killing of Ash trees, the Wooly Adelgid causing widespread killing of Hemlock trees, and an emerging threat from the Spotted Lanternfly that causes widespread killing of major crops and industries including apple, grape and hops. Chemung County and its municipalities may give this risk consideration in the 2025 update based on feedback from stakeholders and the public.
• Landslide: the movement of a mass of rock, debris, or earth down a slope. This is a localized hazard in Chemung County and is currently considered in some municipalities as a hazard of concern.
• Lightning: a visible electrical discharge or spark of electricity in the atmosphere between clouds, the air and/or the ground often produced by a thunderstorm. This does occur in Chemung County and is currently grouped with other hazards, considered under the “Thunderstorm” category.
• Strong Wind: damaging winds, often originating from thunderstorms, that are classified as exceeding 58 mph. This does occur in Chemung County and is currently grouped with other hazards considered under the “Thunderstorm” category.
• Thunderstorm: a rain bearing cloud that also produces lightning, all thunderstorms can be dangerous. Thunderstorm events are ranked as “severe” as defined by the National Weather Service when producing lightning, winds in excess of 58 mph and hail greater than one inch (quarter sized) in diameter. This does occur in Chemung County and is a hazard of concern for all municipalities.
• Tornado: a narrow, violently rotating column of air that extends from the base of a thunderstorm to the ground and is visible only if it forms a condensation funnel made up of water droplets, dust, and debris. While rare and occurrences in Chemung County have been at lower levels on the intensity scale, these do occur in Chemung County, have caused considerable damage, and have increased in frequency over the last two to three decades. For this reason, they are included as a hazard of concern for Chemung County and all its municipalities.
• Tsunami: a wave or series of waves generated by an Earthquake, Landslide, volcanic eruption, or even a large meteor hitting the ocean and causing a rise or mounding of water at the ocean surface. This is not considered a hazard of concern in Chemung County.
• Volcanic Activity: occurs via vents that act as a conduit between the Earth's surface and inner layers, and erupt gas, molten rock, and volcanic ash. This is not considered a hazard of concern in Chemung County.
• Wildfire: an unplanned fire burning in natural or wildland areas such as forests, shrub lands, grasslands, or prairies. This is a localized hazard in Chemung County and is considered in some municipalities as a hazard of concern.
• Winter Storm: winter storm events in which the main types of precipitation are snow, sleet, or freezing rain, and can include high winds that create blizzard conditions, and cold temperatures with wind that can create extreme wind chill risks. This does occur in Chemung County and is a hazard of concern for all municipalities
If you would like to share your thoughts and feedback on the hazards that Chemung County and its municipalities will include in their plans, please take Public Survey #1- Hazards.
For more information on the Hazard Mitigation Plan update, contact Kristin Griffiths at firstname.lastname@example.org