FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 21, 2009
MUW at halfway mark on disaster plan
COLUMBUS, Miss. -- MUW has completed phases 1 and 2 of the Disaster Resistant University (DRU) plan as the DRU planning team has identified and ranked hazards that could affect the university.
The team also has assessed the vulnerability of each hazard and identified critical structures and buildings on campus. Loss estimations are complete as well.
Phase 3 of the plan is developing the mitigation plan. The planning team has ranked mitigation actions to come up with a list of actions to implement. The next step is to prioritize the implementation of these actions. In order to ensure this plan is comprehensive, input is sought from the university community as well as the public. A draft of the plan along with other information can be found at the university’s DRU website at http://muw.edu/vpfa/dru.html. You may also go to the Finance and Administration page and click on the DRU link. A series of public meetings will be scheduled and announced over the next couple of months.
In 2002, the United States Department of Homeland Security initiated the program. Administered by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), the DRU Program assists universities and colleges to implement a sustained pre-disaster hazard mitigation program to reduce the overall risk to students, faculty, staff, facilities, surrounding community and research assets. The ultimate goal is simply a safer university. Upon a positive review by the MEMA and FEMA, MUW will qualify for pre-disaster financial assistance to help initiate the mitigation actions outlined in the plan.
The DRU planning team is composed of a cross-section of university staff, representatives from city government, community organizations, Columbus Air Force Base, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL), MEMA and Affiliated FM, commercial property insurance specialists. The team serves as the overall guiding organization for the development of the mitigation plan. The mission of the DRU planning team is to identify potential hazards (natural and man-made), critical assets and resources that will minimize vulnerabilities to the University while estimating monetary losses that could incur due to these hazards.
Last year, the IHL Office of Risk Management, entered into a contract with MEMA to produce hazard mitigation plans on all campuses. Funding is provided through a grant to IHL by MEMA. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requires each plan to identify the following hazards: earthquake, dam failure, drought, flood, hurricane, tornado and wildfire. Man-made hazards are included in the plan as well.
The mayor’s office and the Board of Supervisors have been mailed a draft of the plan in order to stay abreast of this project. After the plan is implemented it will have to be adopted, monitored and updated, which is the final phase of the project.
“Once the plan is complete, the university will have a comprehensive disaster plan in place. We would like to think we’d never have to use it, but as we know it’s better to have it and not need it than the need it and not have it,” said Angela Jones, project coordinator and MUW assistant to the vice president for finance and administration. “I would like to thank the entire DRU planning team because this has been a major undertaking but with their guidance and feedback, piece by piece it’s coming together.”