HARBOR HAZARD MITIGATION PLAN

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1 HARBOR HAZARD MITIGATION PLAN INTRODUCTION Hazard mitigation is defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as any action taken to eliminate or reduce the long-term risk to human life and property from natural hazards. The Town of Portsmouth has a recently adopted a FEMA-approved Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan that deals with multiple types of natural hazards on a town-wide basis. This Harbor Hazard Mitigation element of the Harbor Management Plan works in parallel with the larger town-wide plan but is narrowed in scope to just harbor and coastal waters issues. This element is, in reality, two plans in one. It is (1) a storm preparedness, response and recovery plan detailing actions for town officials and citizens to take with regard to any single storm event, and (2) a natural hazard mitigation plan that focuses exclusively on harbor and coastal waters issues. The first section is a plan of action in the event of a storm. The second is a detailed list of ongoing, between-storm, projects designed to mitigate or reduce the impacts of storm events on the community. Unlike other Narragansett Bay communities, Portsmouth does not have a single harbor as the center of its boating activity. Rather, the town has over 49 miles of coastline (the largest coastline of any community in the state) with various mooring fields and marina activities spread widely along its shoreline. This geographic situation makes for a challenging area to manage during storm preparedness. Although this plan strives to eliminate all damage from natural disaster, it should be made clear that providing this level of protection is nearly impossible. Therefore, the plan seeks to provide the greatest degree of protections from storm events that can practically be achieved, while allowing traditional waterfront uses to continue Goals The Goals of this Harbor Hazard Mitigation Element are to prevent the loss of life and property by: Properly preparing the community for storm events; 1

2 Having a completed and tested preparedness, response and recovery plan; Working in cooperation with harbor and shorelines users to ensure that a coordinated approach is applied to hazard mitigation; Integrating harbor hazard mitigation activities with other, ongoing, local hazard mitigation programs; Identifying and completing long term actions to redirect, interact with or avoid natural hazards Authority Unless otherwise indicated, the primary authority for carrying out all harbor activities related to storm preparation, response and recovery is vested with the Portsmouth Harbormaster. Long-term mitigation activities are spread out amongst the appropriate town entities (See section 4.0). To successfully complete the activities outlined in this element, the Harbormaster will need to work closely with other town entities including the: Harbor Commission, the Portsmouth Police and Fire Departments, the Town Planning Department and the Planning Board, the Town Building Official, the Emergency Management Director, and the Department of Public Works. 200 RISK ASSESSMENT A natural hazard risk assessment identifies the types and degree of risk posed to harbor and shoreline users by natural hazards. This identification process provides insights concerning the level of vulnerability of local harbor and shoreline users, the allocation of financial and human resources, and the areas of the coastal community needing special attention. In this case, the risk assessment will identify the specific natural hazards associated with a storm event, identify Portsmouth s vulnerabilities to these specific natural hazards, and then list the potential damaging effects of these natural hazards on each of Portsmouth s vulnerabilities. For reference purposes, see Section 2.0 above for a thorough discussion of the general physical characteristics of Portsmouth s waters, harbors, and coastline. 210 Natural Hazards 2

3 Tropical cyclones, both hurricanes and tropical storms, are a relatively frequent fact of life in Rhode Island. Their deadly combination of high-sustained winds, and large storm surges, bring the two natural hazards with the highest potential for damage from natural hazards to be faced in Portsmouth. According to David R. Vallee, National Weather Service meteorologist, Rhode Island has felt the effects of thirty tropical cyclones in the 56-year period of Eleven of these were tropical storms (max sustained winds of mph), and 19 were hurricanes (max sustained winds 74+mph). August and September are the most likely months for tropical cyclone activity in Rhode Island. A quick review of the last six major hurricanes to strike Portsmouth tells the tale: The Great New England Hurricane of 1938 was the most destructive storms to ever strike Rhode Island. With a forward speed of nearly 50 mph and sustained winds of 91 mph (before the anemometer blew away), the 1938 hurricane came ashore at high tide, causing a catastrophic storm surge of 16 to 19 feet. It is estimated the waters on Narragansett Bay rose 8 ½ ft. in one hour during the critical period of landfall. In Portsmouth (Island Park), 22 people drowned, virtually every building in the neighborhood was damaged or destroyed, power was not fully restored for 3 months, and drinking water had to be trucked in for several years. The Great September Hurricane of 1944 This storm made landfall at low tide with sustained winds of 49 mph (peak gust of 91) so the damage was significantly less than the 38 hurricane. A storm surge of 10 to 12 ft. topped the seawall in Island Park. Hurricane Carol (August 1954) In terms of destructiveness, Carol was almost a repeat of the 1938 hurricane. According to David Vallee, entire coastal communities were washed away by the tides, which ran 10 to 12 ft. above flood stage (as with the 38 storm, Carol made landfall at high tide). Block Island set a record with a peak wind gust of 130 mph. Electrical power was not restored in Island Park for a month. Hurricane Donna (September 1960) Donna came ashore with sustained winds of 80 mph and a storm surge of 9 to 12 ft. Park Avenue in Island Park was 2 ft. underwater at one point, with extensive flooding throughout the northern part of 3

4 town. Hurricane Gloria (September 1985) Gloria came ashore at low tide, so will probably best be known for her destructive wind power. Total damage from Gloria was estimated at $19.8 million. All of Aquidneck Island was without power for days. Two deaths were reported, statewide. Hurricane Bob (August 1991) With sustained winds of 75 to 90 mph and a storm surge of between 8 and 12 feet, Hurricane Bob made landfall squarely at the mouth of Narragansett Bay two hours before high tide. As a result, coastal flooding was widespread, bringing extensive damage to homes, boats, and beaches. The western end of Island Park was again flooded, effectively cutting off this neighborhood from the rest of town for a period of time. Statewide property damage from Bob is estimated at $115 Million. Some areas of Portsmouth were without power for up to five days after Bob s passing. 220 Vulnerabilities Portsmouth has three vulnerabilities to the above described natural hazards; our marina facilities, vessels moored in our waters, and our shorefront homes and businesses. To summarize from Section 2.0 above, Portsmouth has six large and active marinas scattered along its shores, approximately 900 vessels moored in 21 mooring fields in our coastal waters, and better than 90% of our 49 miles of coastline is residentially zoned. Much of the northern part of Portsmouth as well as most of the waterfront district on the west side is less than 20 feet above sea level and would be subject to complete inundation from a storm surge of the magnitudes described above. 230 Potential impacts The following table summarizes our two highest risk natural hazards and their effects on our vulnerabilities here in Portsmouth: Natural Hazard High Wind Vulnerability Effect Primary Result Secondary Result Rebuilding/ Structural Marina Facilities Airborne Debris Replacement Damage Costs 4

5 High Wind Moored Boats Windage Dragging or Tackle Failure Damage to Boats Replacement Costs High Wind Shorefront homes & Businesses Airborne Debris Structural Damage Rebuilding/ Replacement Costs Storm Surge Marina Facilities Flooding Free Floating Piers Floating Debris Boats/piers adrift Hazardous Spills Recovery Costs Storm Surge Moored Boats Decreased Scope Dragging or Tackle Failure Damage to Boats Replacement Costs Storm Surge Shorefront Homes & Businesses Flooding Floating Debris Hazardous Spills Recovery Costs 300 STRATEGIES FOR PREPAREDNESS, RESPONSE, AND RECOVERY As is the case with many small communities, The Town of Portsmouth does not have the resources or the authority to do everything that is needed to fully prepare for, respond to, and recover from the impacts of a natural disaster. Therefore the Town must work closely with local marina operators, boat owners, and shoreline users to coordinate actions and mutual assistance in the event of an emergency. Strategies and actions by the Portsmouth Harbormaster, local marina operators, individual boat owners, and shoreline property owners are outlined below: 310 Harbormaster Responsibilities Upon advice and consent of the Portsmouth Chief of Police, The Portsmouth Harbormaster will activate the following preparedness, response and recovery plan beginning 72 hours prior to an anticipated severe storm event. 311 Preparedness Before the Storm Event 311A Level 3 Activities - 72 Hours before the event If a hurricane is expected, begin tracking and monitoring hourly weather reports, check with Portsmouth EMA for updates; Contact any service providers under contract for after-event activities in order to assess their readiness; 5

6 Contact Save the Bay for fuel spill boom materials to pre-position at Building 48 for immediate post-storm deployment at marina entrances; All Harbormaster vessels - ensure fuel tanks are full, reserve batteries are charged, all first aid equipment is updated and all other necessary emergency tools and equipment are onboard; Contact the Bristol and Tiverton Harbormasters and RIDEM Department of Fish and Wildlife to ensure coordinated efforts if necessary; Inspect all radio communication equipment and verify working networks; Use local media outlets and the Town website to ncourage all boat owners with moored vessels to seek safe refuge, remove boats from water, or take action to minimize damaging effects; Use local media outlets and the Town website to Alert all local marinas, marine interests, and occupants of special anchorage areas to impending emergency. 311B Level 2 Activities - 48 Hours before the Event Continue to perform Level 3 activities; Monitor boat owners with moored vessels for completion of preparedness activities; Assist all marina, waterfront business owners and shorefront homeowners with special requests, if possible; Finalize emergency work schedule with Portsmouth Police Department command staff; Confirm arrangements to have all harbormaster vessels hauled and stored, if necessary; Use local media outlets and the Town website to alert the maritime community to any unsafe conditions in Portsmouth waters, as needed; Begin regular patrols of all Portsmouth harbors and coastal waters, if possible; Use local media outlets and the Town website to alert the local boating community to any impending closure of anchorages or waterways; 311C Level 1 Activities 24 Hours before the Event Continue to perform all necessary level 2 activities; 6

7 Perform final patrols of all Portsmouth harbors and waters; Inventory all final precautions taken by all marina facilities and shoreline users; Clear all public piers of vessels and equipment; Top off fuel and inspect condition of all harbormaster vessels and emergency equipment; Haul and store all harbormaster vessels, as necessary; Complete a final shoreline survey and final harbor check from shore, if necessary. 312 Response During the Storm Event It is the policy of the Town of Portsmouth that emergency watercraft will be dispatched for emergency response during a storm event only at the discretion of the Portsmouth Police and Fire Chiefs. In the event that storm conditions are too severe for Town staff to provide an on-the-water response, requests for assistance will be forwarded to the US Coast Guard. During the storm event, the Harbormaster will remain on-station at the Portsmouth Police Department and in radio contact with the local Emergency Operations Center (EOC), as needed. Resumption of on-the-water emergency operations at the conclusion of the storm event will be at the discretion of the Portsmouth Police and Fire Chiefs. 313 Recovery After the Storm Event After a storm event has concluded, the Harbormaster has three recovery priorities: 1. To assess the condition of the Harbormaster Department and reestablish its operational effectiveness as needed; 2. To take the necessary immediate actions to minimize additional risk to life and property; 3. To secure Portsmouth s coastal waters and facilities so that recovery activities can safely begin. To achieve these priorities, the following sequential actions should take place: 313A Immediate (within first 24 hours) 7

8 Assess the operational readiness of the Harbormaster Department and correct any deficiencies; Confirm radio communications with all local emergency efforts; Complete a rapid on-the-water assessment of damage and report to the Chief of Police and any other emergency personnel, as needed; Coordinate with the Chief of Police to initiate any pre-established contracts for services (towing, salvage, etc), as needed; Coordinate with Chief of Police to institute any security measures, as needed; Using local media resources, alert the maritime community to any unsafe conditions in Portsmouth s coastal waters and facilities. Report unsafe conditions to USCG. 313B Short Term (within two weeks) Complete a comprehensive on-the-water inventory of storm damage and notify the appropriate parties, as necessary; Assist any Town and State agencies with damage assessments and any necessary emergency permitting processes. Provide a list of unidentified distressed vessels to the USCG and / or RIDEM, as appropriate; Contact all local marina operators to assess their situation and coordinate recovery efforts as needed; Coordinate with public and private shoreline users and the local Public Works Department to document and attempt to remove any large pieces of floating debris creating an unsafe condition. 313C Long Term (within three months) Submit a complete summary report of the impacts of the storm event on Portsmouth s coastal waters and facilities to the Chief of Police and local Emergency Management Director; Review Section 4.0 of this plan for the opportunity to implement any long term mitigation projects during the recovery phase of the current storm event; Conduct a post-storm meeting for marina operators and shoreline users to 8

9 identify problems not properly addressed by this plan; Coordinate with the Chief of Police, the local EMA Director and Town Planning staff to update any and all provisions this plan based on poststorm evaluation. 320 Harbor and Shoreline Users 321 Marina Operators By way of coordination with this Harbor Hazard Mitigation Plan, all marina facilities listed in Section 2.1 above shall submit an individual marina facilities hazard mitigation plan to the Harbormaster within 90 days of this document being approved. These facility plans shall be updated annually and any changes must be reported to the Harbormaster by January 1 of each year. At a minimum, these facility plans shall include: The primary contact person along with primary and secondary phone numbers; The frequencies of all VHF marine radio channels that are continuously monitored; A list and contact information of all responsible marina staff who are expected to assist in preparation, response and recovery during a stormrelated emergency; A list of all hazardous material stored on site (i.e. waste oil, fuel tanks, solvents); An inventory of all potential recovery equipment (heavy equipment, generators, etc.) stored on-site; A brief narrative describing storm debris disposal plans, including provisions for hazardous waste disposal; A notation of any special arrangements made with the Town in regard to storm events; An outline of storm preparation, response and recovery activities at the facility including timing of activities and responsible parties. 9

10 322 Boat Owners 322A Local Boat Owners All boats moored on town-permitted moorings will be required to submit a storm preparedness plan by filling out a storm preparedness questionnaire as part of the annual mooring renewal forms. For a mooring permit to be approved, the questionnaire must be completed and returned with the mooring application. Boaters will be expected to keep a copy of their plan at all times and to comply, to the best of their ability, with the plan they have prepared. The boat owner should advise the harbormaster of any significant changes to the plan made during the boating season. Individual storm preparedness plans shall include, but not be limited to, the following recommended activities: Consider hauling the boat and storing it upland if possible; Improve the connection between the vessel and the mooring chain by using chafing gear and extra lines. Reduce windage as much as possible by moving all extraneous gear and equipment below deck; Whenever possible, increase scope and set out an additional anchor; Add shock absorbing tackle to the vessel end of the mooring chain; Leave anchor lights and automatic bilge pumps on; Make sure all self-bailing cockpit drains are clear of debris and flowing freely; And finally, boat owners are strongly encouraged not to stay aboard during a major storm event. 322B Passenger Vessels and Ferries Shaw s Water Taxi, based on Prudence Island, is the sole passenger vessel home-ported in Portsmouth. As part of the Town s long-term mitigation activities outlined below, The Portsmouth Harbormaster will contact the owners of Shaw s Water Taxi to coordinate their own storm preparedness, response or recovery plans with the provisions of this plan. 10

11 323 Shorefront Property Owners All shorefront homeowners and waterfront business owners are expected to take the necessary precautions to protect their own property. 400 LONG-TERM HARBOR HAZARD MITIGATION PROJECTS The implementation of long-term harbor hazard mitigation projects to reduce the impacts of all storm events plays as important a role in protecting the health and welfare of the community as emergency preparedness, response, and recovery activities associated with any single storm event. Maintaining a list of, and working to complete, such projects is valuable for a number of reasons: Post-disaster Federal funding may not be available unless FEMAapproved community-wide hazard mitigation plans which include longterm mitigation projects are in place; A working list helps in the identification of potential State and Federal funding sources; It helps in the prioritization and timing of projects during times of scarce resources; Coordination with other town maintenance and improvement projects is facilitated, and; Any periodic planning update procedures benefit from having all data in one place. The projects listed below fall into two categories; (1) those projects that have been previously identified in the Town Council-adopted and FEMA approved, town-wide, multi-hazards Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan that specifically involve harbor and/or coastal waters issues and are to be implemented by Town officials other than the Harbormaster (H-1 to H-3), and (2) those long term mitigation projects specific to this plan and to be implemented primarily by the Harbormaster Department and Harbor Commission (all remaining projects). H-1: NHMP Action 19 Prudence Island s lifeline for emergency services is the town-owned dock situated at Sand Point. Portsmouth Police and Fire as well as 11

12 the PIVFD use this dock, rather than the ferry landing at Homestead, as they have exclusive access and the distance to facilities in Portsmouth proper is shorter. This dock is in need of repairs to its pilings and the construction of a breakwater to protect it from southern exposure. Action Type Emergency Services (protection of critical facilities) Committee Priority High Lead Town Administrator Other Responsible Parties Portsmouth DPW, Local EMA Director Financing Options Town Budget, RIEMA, FEMA Cost High Time Frame Long Term Benefit Enhanced public safety for Prudence Island residents and improved emergency response by Portsmouth Police & Fire. Benefits 0-25% of town population. H-2: NHMP Action 22 Complete the establishment of an Emergency Operations Center as a command post during natural hazard events. Action Type Emergency Services (protection of critical facilities) Committee Priority High Lead Local EMA Director Other Responsible Parties Town Police and Fire Chiefs Financing Options Town Budget, RIEMA, FEMA Cost High Time Frame Short Term Benefit Enhanced public safety and emergency response for the residents of Portsmouth. Benefits 100% of town population. H-3: NHMP Action 23 Update and codify Portsmouth s Emergency Operations Plan. Action Type Emergency Services (protection of critical facilities) Committee Priority High Lead Local EMA Director Other Responsible Parties Town Police and Fire Chiefs Financing Options Town Budget, RIEMA, FEMA 12

13 Cost Minimal Time Frame Short Term Benefit Enhanced public safety and emergency response for the residents of Portsmouth. Benefits 100% of town population. H-4: Public Education Program - Implement an annual education and training program for the public conducted by the Harbormaster. This program should focus on storm preparedness for the boater and storm preparation activities for the waterfront business owner and shorefront homeowner and should assist boat owners in filling out their storm preparedness questionnaire. Lead Harbor Commission, Harbormaster Other Responsible Parties Chief of Police, local EMA Director Financing Options Town Budget, RIEMA, FEMA Cost Staff Time + printing costs Time Frame Short Term Benefit Enhanced public safety and emergency response for the residents of Portsmouth. Benefits 100% of town population. H-5: Marine Interests Inventory - The Portsmouth Harbormaster shall maintain and update as necessary, an accurate list of contact information and any other relevant information on all principle marine interests along the shores of the Town. Per Section above, this list shall include any special storm preparedness requirements that need to be referenced in the Harbormaster s pre-storm preparations. The list should include, but not be limited to: local marinas and harbor facilities; waterfront businesses; neighboring harbormasters; the US Coast Guard and Army National Guard; local towing and salvage companies; RIDEM, CRMC, and any private environmental response teams; key vessel operators (charter boats, passenger vessels, and ferries), as needed; fishing cooperatives. 13

14 Lead Portsmouth Harbormaster Other Responsible Parties Harbor Commission, Chief of Police, local EMA Director Financing Options Town Budget Cost Staff Time Time Frame Short Term Benefit Enhanced emergency response for the residents of Portsmouth. H-6: Mooring Field / Ground Tackle Study The Harbor Commission shall undertake a mooring field-by-mooring field study, taking into account existing ground tackle requirements, existing water depths, mooring density and expected storm surge information to determine if increased scope recommendations and/or amended ground tackle requirements are necessary. In areas where increased scope is not possible, a targeted approach to removing vessels from moorings may be necessary. Lead Harbor Commission Other Responsible Parties Harbormaster, Chief of Police, local EMA Director Financing Options Town Budget Cost Staff Time Time Frame Short Term Benefit Enhanced public safety for the residents of Portsmouth. H-7: Marina Operators Hazard Mitigation Plans Per Section of this plan, the Harbor Commission shall work with all marina operators listed in Section 2.1 above to ensure that they have complied with this plan by submitting an individual marina facilities hazard mitigation plan to the Harbormaster in a timely fashion. Lead Harbor Commission Other Responsible Parties Harbormaster, Chief of Police, local EMA Director Financing Options Town Budget Cost Staff Time Time Frame Short Term Benefit Enhanced public safety for the residents of Portsmouth. 14

15 H-8: Plan Update and Revision Prior to each annual hurricane season, The Portsmouth Harbor Commission and the Harbormaster shall undertake a review and update of this Harbor Hazard Mitigation Plan. Substantive changes (at the discretion of the Town Administrator) shall be treated as amendments to the larger Harbor Management Plan and shall be put before the Town Council for adoption. Lead Harbor Commission & Harbormaster Other Responsible Parties Chief of Police, local EMA Director Financing Options Town Budget Cost Staff Time Time Frame Annually Benefit Enhanced public safety for the residents of Portsmouth. 500 COORDINATION AND CONSISTENCY In order for any municipal planning effort to be successful, especially in situations where resources are stretched thin, such an effort must coordinate and be consistent with all other planning efforts in town. In this way, resources and personnel are maximized and activities are not duplicated. This Harbor Hazard Mitigation Plan, because it both a storm preparedness, response, and recovery plan and a plan dealing with long-term natural hazard mitigation, must coordinate not only with any and all emergency and storm preparation efforts across multiple departments, it must be consistent with existing zoning and land use policies. As part of implementation of the overall Portsmouth Harbor Management Plan, the Harbor Commission, in cooperation with the Town Planning Department, will ensure the Harbor Hazard Mitigation Plan is consistent with all other Town plans and policies by: 1. Encouraging the Emergency Management Director, the Chief of Police, the Public Works Director, the Fire Chief, and the Town Administrator to review a draft of this plan for overlap of efforts and potential conflicts and making sure their input is incorporated into any final draft presented to the Town Council for approval. 15

16 2. Facilitating the drawing up of Memoranda of Agreement with any appropriate Town departments should the above review process identify any potential conflicts with the implementation of this plan and those of any other natural hazard mitigation activities in Town. 3. Identifying any land use changes encouraged by this plan and making sure they are consistent with the Portsmouth Comprehensive Community Plan. 4. Working with the Planning Board and the Planning Department to make sure vulnerable or high-hazard areas identified in this plan are brought to the attention of the Planning Board during their development permitting processes, where appropriate. 5. Working with the Town Planning Department to monitor the updating process of all other Town planning documents and policies for consistency with this plan and amending this plan accordingly, if necessary. 16

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