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County officials launched the Bill Williams Mountain Disaster Planning Initiative today in Williams, Ariz.
The initiative includes developing a pre-disaster plan for the City of Williams if Bill Williams Mountain sustains a major wildfire.A recent study conducted by J.E. Fuller Hydrology and Geomorphology, at the direction of the County’s Flood Control District concluded that the City of Williams will sustain severe damage from flooding and debris flows if Bill Williams Mountain burns. The study report recommended the development of a pre-disaster plan, which will identify ways to reduce the impacts of the flooding on residences, businesses and infrastructure like roads and utilities.Many stakeholders participated in today’s kick-off meeting for the initiative, such as local, state and federal officials as well as local and regional businesses, utilities and other local entities that may sustain impacts.“The Board of Supervisors has identified post wildfire flooding as the number one safety threat in Coconino County,” said Chairman of the Board Matt Ryan. “We launched the initiative in the Bill Williams Mountain area because of the identified high wildfire risk and likely subsequent severe downstream flooding impacting the residential population and commercial property within the City of Williams. Devastating flooding could also negatively impact the economy, particularly the visitation at the Grand Canyon, which may cripple the entire region’s financial stability.”The County was awarded a U.S. Forest Service Secure Rural Schools Title II Rural Advisory Committee Grant to defer $104,000 in project costs. The pre-disaster plan will cost about $145,000 with the difference coming from the Flood Control District.The plan will educate the public on the risks of forest fires and post-wildfire flood danger, investigate mitigation strategies that can be implemented before a fire, and support area forest health planning and initiatives. A targeted pre-disaster plan for the City of Williams and Bill Williams Mountain will be developed and the plan will coordinate post-disaster recovery efforts for the City. Of concern is the City’s water storage and distribution system, which could be severely damaged by debris flows and flooding.Coconino County Emergency Management Director Todd Whitney was named the project manager and the plan is expected to be completed by October 2018.