EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Stakeholders from Woodford County and Tazewell County convened at East Peoria Civic Hall on Tuesday for the first of four meetings to update their multi-hazard mitigation plan in order to be eligible for federal mitigation funds.

The mitigation plan assesses vulnerabilities and identifies projects and activities to minimize the impact of environmental hazards, such as tornadoes and hurricanes, and manmade hazards, such as hazmat situations, to people and property before an event occurs.

Ken Runkle, risk assessor with American Environmental Consulting, a consulting firm that works with counties to help develop hazard mitigation plans, is working with Tazewell County and Woodford County to determine the best plan tailored to each community.

“[We’re] hoping to be able to get lots of information that helps us tell their story through the document, and give them a robust list of projects they would be eligible for funding,” said Runkle.

Mitigation is a sustained action that reduces long-term risk to people and property. Runkle said mitigation can be broken down into activities, such as developing a flood plan ordinance, and projects, such as building a community safe room for tornadoes.

“What are their critical facilities, what do they think they are vulnerable of…What are things that’s happened in the last 5-10 years that have been hazards specific to this area?” said Runkle.

Runkle will present a risk assessment report at the second meeting. At the third meeting, the group will review lists of proposed projects. The fourth meeting will be a two-hour public forum, where the public is encouraged to see the plans and express their thoughts.

“Word of mouth and things people remember help us make sure we don’t miss something,” said Runkle.

Peoria County, which Runkle said has more flooding issues, is working with environmental consulting firm WSP, which he said is better equipped to advise on flooding.