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DHSEM congratulates San Miguel County on new Hazard Mitigation Plan

County and local jurisdictions can now apply for FEMA funding to reduce the impact of future disasters

Santa Fe, NM – Earlier this month, the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) sent a letter to San Miguel County leadership informing them that the county’s latest Hazard Mitigation Plan had been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This plan is a FEMA requirement that must be updated every five years for the county to remain eligible for certain federal disaster assistance. With this approval, San Miguel County, the City of Las Vegas, and the Village of Pecos can continue to seek federal funding through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) program, and they will remain eligible through October of 2026.

Development of the plan is under direction of San Miguel County’s Emergency Manager, Dennis J. Esquibel, and Emergency Management Specialist, Connie Abila, in cooperation with representatives from county departments, local municipalities, school districts, and other key stakeholders.

HMA spans several FEMA grants, including programs for flood recovery, wildfire recovery, and various programs that help communities conduct risk assessments, develop response plans, and build critical infrastructure that is resistant to extreme weather. For instance, San Miguel County completed its first HMA-funded project in 2016, when it replaced the San Miguel County Detention Center’s outdated power generator with a generator that is designed to withstand dangerous weather. Now, the City of Las Vegas is seeking funding through the BRIC 2021 application cycle for additional mitigation work.

Notably, the Biden Administration announced in August of 2021 that an additional $3.5 billion in HMA funds would be made available to help states develop their resilience to the effects of climate change. These funds will be distributed to every state, tribe, and territory that received a major disaster declaration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and they include $11.8 million in additional funding for New Mexico and $332,000 for the Navajo Nation.

In DHSEM’s letter to county leadership, State Hazard Mitigation Officer Chelsea Morganti wrote, “I would like to recognize the efforts of the San Miguel County Emergency Management Office including Connie Abila and Dennis J. Esquibel. Their commitment was instrumental in securing the final approval of the plan. The entire planning team should also be commended. Their time and effort helped to create a useful and realistic Hazard Mitigation Plan.”

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DHSEM works to protect the people of New Mexico and the nation through a comprehensive and coordinated program of mitigating hazards, preparing for emergencies, preventing attacks, and recovering from disasters. The New Mexico State Fire Marshal’s Office is part of DHSEM beginning on July 1, 2021.