While Missoula County authorities would like to have prepared to deal with an emergency when it happens, they'd rather that residents in the area be prepared before there's a fire, storm, or other hazardous situation.

To move in that direction, the county is updating its pre-disaster mitigation plan, and encouraging people to attend an open house to kick off the process on Wednesday.

Because emergencies can develop in any season here in the Northern Rockies, the plan covers things like wildfire, blizzards, and flooding.

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The federal government requires local governments to have a pre-disaster plan which needs to be updated every five years. The idea is to have communities judge "resilience" against disasters, especially when it comes to critical infrastructure, like roads, bridges, and utilities. And the county says that public input is especially critical when it comes to areas that might be prone to major flooding as we experienced in 2018.

"Mitigation projects help our community build resilience and bounce back faster and more thoroughly after disasters. - Missoula County  Office of Emergency Services Director Adriane Beck.

"Having pre-identified mitigation projects gives weight to applications for federal grants that will reduce human impacts and property damage to critical infrastructure," Beck explains.

The county says reviewing and revising the plan gives people a chance to air their concerns about different types of hazards and make sure they're covered in the plan. So if you live along the Clark Fork River, or one of its tributaries, that might be a flood risk. If you live in Grant Creek, or one of the canyons, that might be fire protection.

The county recently sent out a survey that also covered other hazards, like train derailments or oil spills, or even communicable disease outbreaks, something certainly on all of our minds since COVID. You can read the results of those surveys online. Most residents said they were worried most about a wildfire.

All city and county residents, especially those living in rural areas, are invited to an open house Wednesday, June 21st, from 5 to 7 pm at the Missoula County Elections Center on Russell Street.

LOOK: Historic 2022 Flooding in Southern Montana Not Soon to Be Forgotten

Widespread flooding wiped out roads, bridges, buildings, and powerlines throughout riverside communities from Yellowstone National Park and Paradise Valley to Red Lodge. The Yellowstone River winding through Billings crested Tuesday, June 14, 2022. At 11:30 a.m. the National Weather Service in Billings reported the river rose above flood stage and was forecasted to hit 14.7 feet, nearly hitting the 15-foot record set in 1997.

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