Chickasaw County EMA taking disaster survey

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HOUSTON – There are lots of potential disasters but only so many emergency preparedness dollars.

The Chickasaw County Emergency Management Agency has joined with state and local emergency preparedness organizations to develop a regional hazard mitigation plan and they want local communities to help them set priorities.

“There are only so many state and federal dollars and we want people in Chickasaw County to tell us what they feel are their major safety concerns,” said Linda Griffin, Chickasaw County Emergency Management Agency executive director. “We want the public’s input.”

Griffin said a hard-copy can be picked up at her office at 210 Harrington Street or she will be glad to email a copy to anyone calling 448-1012.

The survey covers hazards ranging from hurricanes and tornadoes to hazardous material spills and floods. The survey also seeks to rank these concerns from “very important” to “not important.”

The survey takes about five-minutes to complete and is anonymous. The deadline for submitting a survey is July 26.

“The key to a disaster response it being prepared,” said Griffin. “But if you spend money getting prepared for a wildfire and then have a flood you aren’t very effective.”

And Griffin said as lawmakers tighten down on state and federal dollars, it becomes more important for communities to choose wisely how they prepare for a disaster.

“It’s all about setting spending priorities that minimize the risk for loss of life,” she added. “If people are worried about tornadoes, we could spend money on more storm shelters and warning sirens. If people are worried about a chemical spill on the highway, we can train to respond to that kind of problem.”

Griffin also urged both industry and schools to take part in the survey.

“One of the areas where I feel we might be exposed is how we could adequately prepare and respond to a tornado hitting a local school or a factory,” said Griffin. “There are steps you can take to make children and workers safer. That’s why we are asking people to tell us their concerns.”

Griffin said the data is being collected from 10 counties and 30 municipalities in a regional approach to acquiring state and federal dollars. She also pointed out that surrounding counties are usually the first to respond to a major disaster.

The survey is being funded by a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 90/10 grant and the 10 counties involved will divide up the 10-percent match.

“We are having to pay about 1-percent for a quality survey that will impact this county for at least the next five to 10-years,” said Griffin. “This is public money and the public needs to tell us how to spend it.”

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