By Tamas Mondovics

County officials began hosting a series of five meetings last month to provide residents information about the 2015 update to Hillsborough County’s Local Mitigation Strategy and Floodplain Management Plan (LMS).

The meetings, hosted in an open house format, held in Ruskin, Seffner and Tampa are intended for residents of unincorporated Hillsborough County, Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City and will run until Monday, September 15.

The LMS is the “all hazards” guide to provide the community information about risks such as floods, wildfires, tornados, thunderstorms, and hurricanes that they could possibly face while living in Hillsborough County and the mitigation techniques that residents and businesses may implement to lessen the risks.

According to County Senior Planner Michael Rimoldi, County staff are at each meeting to assist residents with their safety concerns, receive suggestions as well as present the process of how the last (2009) LMS plan is being updated.

“We are here to provide information about what local government is doing to mitigate hazards, and explain how residents may take action to protect their family, business and property,” Rimoldi said.

One of the first to arrive to the meeting was Elizabeth Ciesla, who has recently moved to Hillsborough County. As a newcomer to the area Ciesla was pleasantly surprised by what was presented.

“I am specifically interested in the flooding risk and how the County is helping residents to be prepared for it,” Ciesla said. “I want to stay knowledgeable and have found the meeting informative.”

The County is required by the Florida Division of Emergency Management, FEMA and the State to maintain a Local Mitigation Strategy and conduct a major review and update every five years in order to receive state and federal pre- and post-disaster mitigation grant funds.

“The key is to work closely with residents, who for the most part know very well their own area’s vulnerabilities,” said County Hazard Mitigation Program Manager Eugene Henry adding that vulnerability does not change. “It is what we do about reducing the effect or minimize the possible damage.”

For more information on the County’s Hazard Mitigation Programs, visit

The remaining LMS meetings are:

• Monday, September 8 at 6:30 p.m.

Bloomingdale Regional Public Library, 1906 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico

• Monday, September 15 at 6:30 p.m.

Upper Tampa Bay Regional Library, 11211 Countryway Blvd., Tampa

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