Getting a copy of the Hazard Vulnerability Assesment (HVA) for your community allows you to focus disaster preparation priorities on threats known to affect your area.  It helps to know what to prepare for, right?  Local municipalities often take advantage of expensive professionals to analyze pertinent threats in your area, and compile these reports.  And you can often get access to this quality information, for free!

Just contact your Office of Emergency Management (OEM) for your town or community.  For our company, that was contacting our local police chief.  While our town didn't have an HVA by name, the chief was able to provide us with the following, which is a portion of the Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) for Firestone, CO.  Notice all the threats they depict, that you may not have thought of before!

[blockquote class="default"]Vulnerability Statement:

Geography- The Carbon Valley communities are located in the northeastern plains of Colorado, in the southwestern quadrant of Weld County. Major bodies of water in the Carbon Valley communities include the St. Vrain River, Milavec Lake, Little Dry Creek (seasonal), St. Vrains State Park. Major transportation routes include Interstate 25 and State Highways 52 and 119. Future Colorado Department of Transportation construction plans will create an expansion of County Road 13/Colorado Blvd into a major arterial route. There are a significant number of abandoned mine shafts throughout the region at varying depths beneath the surface. Natural gas and oil drilling sites and pipelines, both active and inactive, permeate the Carbon Valley communities.

Demographics- An estimated 17,000 people live in the Carbon Valley communities. In addition, Interstate 25 functions as a major north-south transportation route for commercial interstate trucking and commuter traffic to Denver metropolitan area to the south and Longmont/Loveland/Fort Collins region to the north.

Hazard Analysis:

A disaster can occur at anytime within the jurisdictions of Weld County and any of its municipalities. All areas of Weld County are at risk for three types of emergencies:

  • Natural Disasters – Weld County is at risk from tornadoes; floods; severe storms (e.g. snow, rain, hail); urban and wild land fires; drought; and power failure.
  • Technological Incidents – In addition to natural disasters, Weld County is at risk for man-made, or technological, disasters such as dam failures, hazardous materials incidents along transportation routes or industrial areas; civil unrest; major air and ground transportation accidents; and attack by a foreign enemy or terrorist organization in the form of chemical, biological, nuclear weapons.
  • Man-Made Hazards - Possible man-made disasters which could create an emergency response include transportation incidents involving hazardous substances, major air and ground transportation accidents, civil disturbances, terrorists or bomb threats, and conventional, nuclear, biological or chemical attack.

Local government has the responsibility to protect life and property from the effects of hazardous incidents or events, as much as possible. This is accomplished by use of government and volunteer agencies which have the capability of providing emergency services resources.

  • Floods – Floods present a risk to life and property, including buildings, their contents, and their use. Floods can affect crops and livestock. Floods can also affect lifeline utilities (e.g., water, sewerage, and power), transportation, jobs, tourism, the environment, and the local and regional economies.

    The principal cause for flooding in Weld County is intense rainfall which normally occurs in the period of May through September. A historical analysis of rainfall patterns along the Front Range has shown that probable maximum amounts of 20 inches of rainfall can occur in a given 24 hour period. The likelihood of flooding is also increased May and June as a result of spring runoff from winter snow pack.

    Although dam failures are rare events, they occasionally occur due to a variety of causes, including overtopping during flooding, improper maintenance or operation, earthquakes, and (potentially) acts of sabotage. As dams age and the water demands of a growing population increase, the dam failure hazard also increases, compounded by new development in dam failure flood inundation zones.
  • Blizzard & Winter Storms – Blizzards and severe winter storms cover large land areas, impacting multiple counties concurrently. The impacts throughout the Planning area are generally the same. Interstates and secondary roads are often closed because the road crews cannot “keep up” with the rate of snowfall; to prevent motorists from being stranded and necessitating rescue efforts; and to maintain the safety of the road crews.

    When the Interstate highways are closed, this action cuts the provision of primary supplies (gasoline and food) to the communities, and also strands thousands of motorists who were “passing through” for up to several days. In many cases, when the hotel rooms in one community “fill up,” the interstates are then closed back to the next community with available lodging. This is to prevent over-burdening of communities already hosting motorists, and to keep those still enroute from becoming stranded “in between.”
  • Drought – Even in high moisture years, Colorado rainfall does not provide a consistent, dependable water supply throughout the year. Severe drought results in devastating economic consequences for agriculture, forestry, wildlife management, the environment and tourism.
  • Tornadoes – Tornadoes are rotating columns of air marked by a funnel-shaped downward extension of a cumulonimbus cloud whirling at destructive speeds of up to 300 mph, usually accompanying a thunderstorm. (Hazards in Colorado)

    Each spring to mid summer, Weld County reports an average of five (5) tornado incidents per year. These are typically the F0 or F1 variety (on the Fujita Scale of tornado intensity of F0-F5). Large-scale destruction of homes, business, or other structures is minimal, due to the large areas of farm, rural, and undeveloped prairie. However, any tornado incident involving structures in this county would prove a formidable incident. The conventional wisdom is that tornadoes move from the west or southwest and that the mountains are insulated from the hazard.
  • Other Wind Hazards – Wind storm activity is well documented in Weld County and can occur anytime throughout the year. The most notable wind events however are those associated with down slope, “Chinook” wind storms and can produce gusts in excess of 100 mph. As with tornado, the principal danger to persons in this situation is injury from flying debris. Any such winds are also capable of inflicting great damage to property.

    Wind storm damage can be very widespread throughout the county compared with the greater but more geographically limited damage with tornadoes. With regard to windstorms, the principal response by the Carbon Valley will be damage assessment. Therefore, the goal of this section of the Emergency Operating Plan will be to describe roles and responsibilities during and after tornado events.
  • Hail & Summer Storms – Hail is associated with thunderstorms, and thunderstorms are a common occurrence throughout the area between early spring and late fall. In addition, hailstones are frequently thrown out miles in front of the storm producing them Hail, in northeastern Colorado, primarily causes crop damage. However, hailstorms in populated areas can cause significant damage to roofs, automobiles, and windows.
  • Wildland/Grassland Fires – Wildland and Grassland fires in Weld County are predominantly ignited by either lightening, sparks from braking trains, or cigarettes discarded from automobiles traversing the county roadways. There exists the risk of losses to homes, agriculture outbuildings, farm equipment, and storage tanks as a result of these fires. The risk of fires is amplified with the drought events.
  • Hazardous Materials Incident – The potential for spills, leaks, ruptures and/or fires involving hazardous materials in Weld County exists primarily through transportation accidents of surface, rail vehicles, pipeline and air. Interstate 25, State Highway 52, are heavily traveled by transports, which very frequently carry a wide variety of hazardous materials on any designated HazMat routes.

    Storage and transfer facilities are potential sources of leakage although spills are principally attributed to human error. As a result, the time and location of a likely occurrence cannot be specifically foreseen. Planning must therefore be directed toward a generalized and flexible response capability.
  • Radiological Incident – Radiological weapons threats may range from detonation of a complete weapons system from a nuclear arsenal to any explosive device packed with highly radiological material with the latter being the most likely method. The physiological impact of such a weapon can be far more devastating than the actual physical damage. Radiation is an invisible hazard. There are no initial characteristics or properties of radiation itself that are noticeable. Unless the nuclear/radiological material is marked to identify it as such, it may be some time before the hazard has been identified as radiological.[/blockquote]