As a low-lying barrier island, Sea Isle remains vulnerable to floodwater.

The Cape May County Office of Emergency Management has begun the effort to update the Cape May County Hazard Mitigation Plan.

This update is required every five years and is supported by a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It will be expanded to include new threats to the county, including flooding threats caused by climate change and sea-level rise.

“All 16 communities, along with other professionals and experts from our region are involved in the massive update of this mitigation plan,” Cape May County Emergency Management Director Martin Pagliughi said in a news release. “The 2021 plan update will identify all hazards that threaten our county. Certainly this year everyone has learned when you think it won’t happen, it certainly will.”

The county’s initial plan approved four years ago has served as a model for other counties throughout the state, the release said.

FEMA provided $125,000 in grant funding for the county update based on the overwhelming success of the initial plan.

The plan will identify key actions to be taken to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to human life and property from natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and winter storms; it will be expanded to include other natural and man-made hazards including pandemics.  A professional consultant, Tetra Tech, has been retained by the county to assist in putting this plan together.

The update of the plan allows the county and participating jurisdictions to continue to be eligible for future pre-disaster mitigation funding from FEMA. Since Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the county has secured over $15 million in grants through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, and Flood Mitigation Assistance, due to the existence of the comprehensive hazard mitigation plan.

“The creation of this plan will prepare the county and our 16 member communities for future risks,” Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton said. “We have trusted and valuable stakeholders invested in this plan to truly mitigate future risk from sea-level rise, climate change, storms, and other disasters that may impact our county.”

Additionally, participation in this plan assists our local municipalities in earning valuable points in FEMA’s Community Rating System. Participating municipalities who meet certain point thresholds can offer discounts on flood insurance premiums in their respective communities.

“Resiliency and the preparation for risks both known, and unknown, saves lives and protects property,” Pagliughi said. “The Cape May County Department of Emergency Management is proud to shepherd the update of this extensive plan for the benefit of every resident and property owner in Cape May County.”

A series of public meetings will be part of the plan development process. Information regarding the Hazard Mitigation Plan will be posted on the Cape May County HMP plan website at