Colbert County Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Melton

Colbert County Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Melton 

TUSCUMBIA — Mike Melton retired from the Colbert County Emergency Management Agency at the end of May, but he didn't say retired long.

Melton said he's taken a consulting job with the Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments (NACOLG) to help the organization assist its member counties with updating their hazard mitigation plans.

The plans must be updated every five years.

Melton said he would serve as a middle man between FEMA and the local governments and their Emergency Management Agency directors, who will be rewriting their hazard mitigation plans so they can be submitted next year.

"This allows the counties and each municipality to apply for hazard mitigation grants," Melton said of the revised plans.

The plans, which help mitigate the impact of a natural disaster, could involve new storm shelters, improvements to stormwater drainage systems or retention ponds. 

The plans are created locally, then submitted to FEMA for its approval, Melton said.

Melton said he's assisting officials in Colbert, Lawrence, Franklin, Marion, Lamar, Winston and Walker counties. He said NACOLG agreed to allow him to assist Lamar, Fayette and Walker counties, which are outside NACOLG's five-county region.

He said Lauderdale County is crafting its own hazard mitigation plan.

"We're doing the same thing as in year's past," Lauderdale County EMA Director George Grabryan said. "We have a contractor we're comfortable with."

He said Ben Farmer, of Ben Farmer and Associates, has prepared the county's hazard mitigation plan for several years.

"A lot of counties do their own plans," Grabryan said. "It's not an out of the ordinary thing."

Melton said Fayette County is also creating its own plan.

He said the county prepares the plan and each municipality adopts the plan as its own. The county's EMA director will contact the cities to determine their priorities and include it in each county plan. 

Each city, he said, has their own trouble spots, such as Cave Street in Tuscumbia.

"All three of the (Colbert County) cities have had extensive mitigation grants over the years," Melton said.

Sheffield Mayor Ian Sanford said the city will probably make an effort to make improvements to the stormwater retention system along South Montgomery Avenue. The city planned to make improvements to a pond in that area with a 2016 U.S. Economic Development Administration grant, but had to remove the pond from the project.

"When the bids came back we just couldn't afford it," he said.

Sanford said the city has property to improve stormwater retention, but it must secure grant money to complete the projects. The project off Montgomery Avenue is estimated to cost $2.5 million.

"Even if we're fortunate to get an 80-20 grant, we're still looking at a half million dollars, which we really don't have," Sanford said.

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