Otter Tail County adopts natural hazard plan

This map shows unusually strong wind events in Otter Tail County, measured by knots. Note the 83-126 knot wind occurrences that in east Otter Tail, in the Parkers Prairie, Henning, and New York Mills area over the past 10 to 20 years. The Rothsay area experienced an unusual concentration of wind events between 2001 and 2019. The Pelican-Lizzie-Lida area also had its share of occurances, upper left.

An updated countywide Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan, which will guide the actions of Otter Tail County and cities to eliminate or greatly reduce the impact of natural hazards/disasters on communities, was approved June 14.

The Plan profiles many of the natural hazards that occur throughout the county – including flooding, tornadoes, windstorms, severe winter and summer storms, extreme heat and cold, and drought. 

In addition, the Plan details over 50 countywide and city-specific projects that officials have identified as having a desire to implement over the next five years, including revisions to policies/ordinances, protections for city utilities, installation of outdoor warning sirens, and construction of community storm shelters.

“Hazard mitigation is any action taken to eliminate or reduce the long-term risk to people and property from natural hazards,” County Emergency Manager Patrick Waletzko said. “Having this updated plan in place will allow the county and cities to pursue activities that will contribute to life safety, reduce property damage and economic losses, and keep critical community facilities in working order.”

The countywide Planning Team consisted of county and city officials, and representatives of over 35 local and regional stakeholder groups. Meeting mostly virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, development began in 2020 and was completed earlier this year with a review by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The adoption of the plan by the County Board and all city councils represents the final steps necessary to make the plan official before steps can be taken to implement the projects.

In addition to strategically guiding the work of the county and cities, having a Hazard Mitigation Plan makes the county and cities eligible to apply for federal hazard mitigation funding and other opportunities.

The Hazard Mitigation Plan is available for review on the county’s website: https://ottertailcountymn.us/mitigation