BOLDplanning Customer Showcase: Calhoun County, Michigan
Spanning 709 square miles in the southern portion of the “Wolverine State,” Calhoun County, Michigan, is home to approximately 134,487 people (U.S. Census Bureau estimate, 2018). The county, considered both rich in history and on the cutting edge of tomorrow’s technology and development, is located between Chicago and Detroit, at the junction of two major interstate freeways—I-94 (east/west) and I-69 (north/south). Its three primary areas of population are the City of Albion, the City of Marshall (the County seat), and the City of Battle Creek, which is the largest metropolitan area in the county. There are 19 townships, four unincorporated cities, and four villages within the county’s boundaries, and the remainder of the land is primarily agricultural. As such, Calhoun County offers the serenity of country living and the cultural and recreational amenities offered in urban settings.
Always working to ensure the safety of those who live or work in, visit, or simply pass through the county, is the Calhoun County Office of Emergency Management & Homeland Security (a division of the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office). Its mission is to lessen the effects of disasters, both natural and manmade, by coordinating and providing support to all agencies during all five phases of emergency management: mitigation, prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery. The emergency management mission includes identifying potential threats, decreasing vulnerabilities, and increasing the capabilities to respond to an act of terrorism or other threats within Calhoun County.
Effective Emergency Management Begins with a Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP)
Serving as the director of the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division since 2007, Durk Dunham knows all too well the importance of planning, especially when it comes to hazard mitigation. In fact, he considers the county’s HMP to be its single most important plan because it discusses in finite detail the risks, vulnerabilities, and critical infrastructure associated with the county. Dunham also knows that keeping the plan current, i.e., updated every five years, is essential if the county is going to remain eligible for certain mitigation funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Take the Enbridge Oil Spill, which occurred in Calhoun County, for example. On July 25, 2010, approximately 840,000 gallons of crude oil leaked into the Talmadge Creek and Kalamazoo River watersheds. This oil leak was caused by an Enbridge Oil pipeline rupture. This created the largest ecological disaster, i.e., an inland oil spill, in the history of the Midwest. The presence of oil caused, and continues to cause, concern regarding groundwater, surface water, air quality, soils and sediment, and direct contact.
Needless to say, manmade disasters like the Enbridge Oil Spill are now among the many hazards identified within Calhoun County’s current HMP. Others include severe storms, floods and tornadoes, to name a few. The plan was last updated in 2017.
Calhoun County Finds Partner in BOLDplanning for HMP Development
Like other emergency management officials across the country, Dunham is well aware that writing and/or updating a hazard mitigation plan is no small undertaking. It is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process—one that requires extensive localized research and analysis, the running of HAZUS®-MH maps, and of course, a whole lot of stakeholder engagement. In fact, he believes HMPs are a “specialty that should be left up to the professionals.”
In 2016, Calhoun County selected BOLDplanning to update its existing HMP. As the solution of choice for more than 10,000 public and private sector organizational plans, the company provides expert planning services coupled with superior online software that matches required planning guidelines, including Continuity Guidance Circular 1 & 2 (CGC1/CGC2), Comprehensive Preparedness Guide 101 (CPG101), and the National Response Framework (NRF). Its mitigation plans are based on guidance from FEMA following the Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) process.
After only a few months, BOLDplanning delivered to Calhoun County a fully updated HMP for local, state and federal review. Interestingly, the plan passed both the State of Michigan and FEMA on the first pass, which is very rare for HMPs (there is usually at least one crosswalk issued for mandatory/optional improvements). The updated plan was adopted by Calhoun County in May 2017.
Calhoun County Takes Critical Next Step Toward Creating a Culture of Preparedness
Calhoun County was so impressed with BOLDplanning and the contents of its newly updated HMP that officials enlisted the company’s help yet again for the development of its Continuity of Operations (COOP) plan in 2018. COOP, as defined in the National Continuity Policy Implementation Plan (NCPIP) and the National Security Presidential Directive-51/Homeland Security Presidential Directive-20 (NSPD-51/HSPD-20), is an effort within individual executive departments and agencies to ensure that Primary Mission Essential Functions (PMEFs) continue to be performed during a wide range of emergencies, including localized acts of nature, accidents and technological or attack-related emergencies. For BOLDplanning, COOP is also a critical “next step” toward creating a culture of preparedness and completing what it commonly refers to as the Preparedness Cycle Framework™.
The BOLDplanning Cycle of Preparedness Framework is a useful planning model for ensuring emergency managers take a longer-term view of preparedness. Instead of viewing plans, exercises and training as individual silos of work, the framework encourages managers to view their preparedness in a holistic way. Further, the framework suggests tying various plans together through the facilitation of expert consultants and the use of today’s online technologies. By adopting and pursuing the Cycle of Preparedness Framework, emergency managers, like Durk Dunham with Calhoun County, Michigan, will have taken great strides towards creating a culture of preparedness for their organization and community.