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Campus Mitigation Plan aims to reduce natural hazards risks

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A new Campus Hazard Mitigation Plan will go into effect at Ohio State in 2016 with the goal of increasing safety on campus.

The $600,000 project, which is in the study phase, is being developed by Michael Baker International. It will create a natural-hazards mitigation plan and a flood-mitigation and implementation plan to identify the potential natural and manmade hazards to OSU, and to develop a plan to alleviate these hazards.

“The safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors is our top priority,” Justin Moss, Administration and Planning spokesman, said in an email. “This plan will allow the university to have a comprehensive plan in place to mitigate these potential hazards.”

The plan is looking to reduce hazardous effects of severe summer and winter storms, seismic events, flooding and utility failure, according to Moss.

The planning began in March 2015 and is projected to be completed around the end of 2016, Moss said.

Initial funding of $200,000 was approved in Oct. 2014 for an all-natural hazards-mitigation plan, according to Board of Trustee meeting notes.

“Also, an additional $400,000 was recently approved by the Board of Trustees for this study for a detailed flood response plan and additional recommendations of flood-protection equipment,” Moss said.

The total budget for this project will be paid with university funds, according to meeting notes.

In addition, as grant funds become available, Moss said that the Campus Hazard Mitigation Plan will make OSU to be eligible for federal funding.

With the completion of this plan close to a year away, student Brandon Sienkiewicz, a second-year in applied math, said he thinks that the plan will have an impact on campus over time.

“Over a long period of time, I would say that it will protect campus. But over a short period, I don’t think it will be as noticeable because Ohio’s weather is pretty mild,” he said. “I do think it is something that is good to have, though, just in case something does happen.”

Another student, Allyson Brady, a second-year in earth science, said she thinks that OSU is using its money wisely by developing this plan to protect the campus community.

“I think it is a good plan to have. Just having this as a precautionary plan is a good idea,” she said. “Ohio State spends a lot of money elsewhere, so spending money on something that will protect the students is especially worth it.”

Even though some regions of the world might be more susceptible than others, natural hazards are always a threat, even to OSU. Floodplain manager of the City of Columbus and OSU alumna Renee VanSickle provided some insight about the potential of flooding to the Columbus area.

“There is always a chance that there will be a flood in Columbus, but there is no way to know. It all depends on Mother Nature,” she said. “It is always a good idea for people to be protected and to be aware that there can be a flood.”

VanSickle said that both rainfall and snowmelt are potential factors that might contribute to a flood in Columbus.

OSU’s Campus Hazard Mitigation Plan is being put into place to reduce the severity of not just flooding, but other natural hazards in order to protect the OSU community.

“Facilities Operations and Development, along with our Emergency Management and planning departments, are committed to enhancing efforts with the goal of keeping the campus community and its buildings safe,” Moss said.

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