University of Mississippi Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan Update

Charles T. Swann, Allison I. Woolsey and Jeremy J. Dew

Download PDF Presentation

Goals

The University of Mississippi has an existing hazard mitigation plan that was approved by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on July 6, 2006. This project will provide a periodic update / review / revision for this existing plan. The review will allow the University to evaluate the effectiveness of mitigation actions proposed in the 2006 plan and potentially alter mitigation actions and strategy. The update/review will be conducted within MEMA / FEMA guidelines with the goal of obtaining the approval of both agencies for the revised plan.

Status of Project

The project is on-going and in the initial data gathering stages. The work plan seeks to complete the update /review /revisions within one year. Additional time may be required for the MEMA/FEMA review process. Project funding and oversight is provided by the MEMA using monies provided by the FEMA.

Advisory Committee

An important component of the project is to actively involve the stake holders within the planning and review process. A means of accomplishing this goal is by way of the Advisory Committee which is composed of leaders of the University of Mississippi, emergency managers from Oxford and Lafayette County, Three Rivers Planning and Development District, private citizens, businesses in Oxford and Lafayette County, as well as representatives from non-profit organizations. The committee serves to review the technical studies associated with the plan update and provide guidance and advice from their particular point of view. The committee ensures that the planning process is open and the conclusions drawn from the technical studies are reasonable, logically presented and useful to the goals of the project.

Major Project Components

The project can be subdivided into three major areas of work. These areas of work include: a) hazard identification and evaluation, b) vulnerability assessment and c) mitigation strategy. The hazard identification task will review a list of hazards proposed by FEMA and evaluate their significance to the University of Mississippi. Other hazards (Figure 1) may be added to the listing if they are deemed likely to cause significant damage to the University. The 2006 plan listed eight hazards likely to cause significant damage with the tornado and earthquake hazards being the number one and two hazards, respectively.

Figure 1: A winter storm covered northern Mississippi in January of 2011 (winter storms are included in the natural hazard listing for the University). As the adjacent photo of the Lyceum illustrates, the snow and ice made the campus have the appearance of a Christmas card, but it was not without cost. The campus roads required clearing and sidewalks and outdoor stairs had to be de-iced. The campus was closed and classes cancelled resulting in a loss of functionality. The costs of natural hazards and ways to mitigate the hazards are included in the Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan.

Figure 1: A winter storm covered northern Mississippi in January of 2011 (winter storms are included in the natural hazard listing for the University). As the adjacent photo of the Lyceum illustrates, the snow and ice made the campus have the appearance of a Christmas card, but it was not without cost. The campus roads required clearing and sidewalks and outdoor stairs had to be de-iced. The campus was closed and classes cancelled resulting in a loss of functionality. The costs of natural hazards and ways to mitigate the hazards are included in the Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan.

At the time of completion of the 2006 plan, the University contained 214 structures with an estimated value of $1,621,741,863. When this exposure was combined with the value of special collections, special inventories, and equipment, the total exposure of the University to natural hazards was estimated to be $1,881,789,066. The University was evaluated within these constraints as to its vulnerability to specific hazards. The vulnerability to the tornado and earthquake hazard, for example, was estimated to be $219,222,000 and $112,907,344, respectively. Since the completion of the 2006 plan there have been significant changes in the campus physical plant with new structures completed and older ones demolished. The review and revision of campus vulnerabilities is obviously an area in which significant work will be devoted.

The mitigation strategy is founded on the previous two sets of studies and contains the specific actions the University will seek to undertake to reduce the impact of natural hazards at the University of Mississippi. The mitigation actions can take the form of policy, operating procedure as well as "brick and mortar" projects. The protection of human life, as in the 2006 plan, is of primary concern followed by protection of Mississippi’s investment in the University’s physical components.

Public Involvement

Particularly in the case of natural hazards, the University will function in the context of the adjoining city and county jurisdictions. There will be a minimum of three public meetings held on the campus as well as in Oxford to afford the public from the adjoining jurisdictions the opportunity to comment on the planning work, to offer advice and guidance and to learn of the character of natural hazards in the University/Oxford/ Lafayette County area.

Collaborators

The University of Mississippi Department of Civil Engineering



Contact Information

For more information, please contact Charles T. Swann
E-mail: cts@olemiss.edu
Phone: +1 (662) 915-7320
www.olemiss.edu/depts/mmri