EAST PEORIA — When severe storms hit, it is crucial to take steps preventing injuries and deaths while maintaining vital community services. The nature of these steps will be the topic of the upcoming Tri-County Natural Hazard Mitigation Advisory Committee meeting, taking place at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 20, in Room 200 of the Clock Tower Building at 201 Clock Tower Drive in East Peoria. Committee meetings are open to the public.

Fourteen jurisdictions throughout Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford counties are participating in the planning process: The Village of Bartonville, the City of Chillicothe, the City of East Peoria, the City of Eureka, the Village of Germantown Hills, the Village of Hanna City, the Village of Morton, the City of Pekin, the City of Peoria, the Village of Peoria Heights, Tazewell County, the Village of Tremont, the City of Washington, and Woodford County.

The last meeting, which took place in March, involved dialogue about risk assessment and mitigation activities. Two more meetings are expected in this planning process, which is funded through a grant from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, or IEMA. This plan will serve as an update for the 2010 Tri-County Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Beginning in October 2017, this Committee has been working to update this plan, whose goal is to protect Tri-County residents and property from natural disasters. This plan is aimed at identifying projects and activities that can be implemented before these disasters occur.

Building storm shelters, acquiring flood-prone properties, providing back-up power supplies, retrofitting water supplies and other critical facilities to better withstand natural disasters are a few of the more frequently encountered mitigation projects in Illinois. Developing public information materials and conducting drainage studies are examples of other activities that might also be included in the Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan.

While natural disasters cannot be prevented altogether, updating this Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan will allow the tri-county area to be more prepared to manage them and bounce back from them as they occur in the future.