LONGMEADOW — A virtual public hearing on April 29 offered community members an opportunity to review and offer input on the town of Longmeadow’s update to the 2024 Hazard Mitigation Plan. The meeting sought guidance and recommendation from town residents to assist in the development of strategies in mollifying the potential impacts of natural hazards and reducing the town’s vulnerabilities to such occurrences.

Emily Farmer, a climate resilience scientist with the engineering consulting firm, BETA Group in Boston, presented an overview of the town’s updated mitigation project before a group including Town Manager Lyn Simmons, Town Engineer Tim Keane and Fire Chief John Dearborn.

The update is poised to replace the town’s 2016 plan and is based upon four requirements of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, which obligates communities to receive approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to remain eligible for government assistance.

Those conditions outline the planning and maintenance processes, risk assessment and a mitigation strategy against natural disasters and similar occurrences to include such events as earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes. The plan also seeks to identify specific areas and populations that would be most vulnerable to these climatic events.

Wildfires, droughts and invasive species are also listed as potential circumstances the plan would seek to address.

The plan was produced by the town of Longmeadow and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and was funded by FEMA and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

Examples of mitigation include the limitation of development in high-risk areas, protection of existing structures from flooding and high wind exposure through retrofitting and other prevention efforts, as well as drainage improvements to address localized flooding.

Assistant Town Manager Corrin Meise-Munns looked back at the local droughts impacting the region two years ago, describing the concerns raised in neighboring communities as well as within Longmeadow.

“It affected our town, it affected people’s landscapes mostly,” she said. “But the town as a whole, on the back end, I know our Emergency Management and our DPW were very concerned about our water supply, our water tower and the ability to keep up pressure for fighting brush fires and wildfires if they happened, but also home fires.”

Farmer also made note of the recent earthquake and aftershocks that hit the nearby areas of the east coast as a prime example of unplanned and unexpected occurrences.

Among the actions identified by the Mitigation Committee for the 2024 plan update; policies for the fueling, maintenance and replacement of dedicated emergency generators, recommendations for stormwater asset management, public education for emergency operations and the assessment of local dams.

The protection of power and gas lines, a beaver management plan to address chronic flooding and the enhancement of current communication strategies within the vulnerable populations were also listed as priorities in the proposed update.

A full outline of the plan, which has already received input from town leaders and committee members will be made available for public review in the near future. Following that, the plan draft is submitted to MEMA for their examination before the information is forwarded to FEMA for further review.

“A lot of this is based around outreach to the public and then outreach to those state and federal agencies,” she said.

Farmer said climate resilience is also accounted for in hazard mitigation, by considering and preparing for future events, potentially impacted by climate change and hopefully reducing the risk and damage for persons and property.

Explaining the differences between hazard mitigation and emergency preparedness within a municipality or region, Farmer said while the two are not mutually exclusive and often overlap, there are notable variations.

“If we think about the accessibility of emergency shelter versus the actual planning that goes around an emergency shelter and the operation of that shelter, that’s a good balance of hazard mitigation being the planning and practice of what goes around where a shelter may be and who is in charge of it and then the actual operation of the shelter is the emergency preparedness aspect.”

Town residents and property owners are encouraged to review the plan content when it is released before it is submitted for state and federal consideration.