County, city need to look at EMA job

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 17, 2005

With all the coverage being given to the American tragedy that Hurricane Katrina has become, the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Ivan's onslaught on Alabama has come and passed quietly in the state and national media.

While the unfolding story that is Hurricane Katrina should rightfully be at the top of the collective thought right now, it's important that we not forget the lessons we learned one year ago this week.

The statistics from Hurricane Ivan were staggering for Butler County. Tens of thousands of trees down, many on people's homes; hundreds displaced due to structural damage and business interruption due to power supply issues.

It's obvious to us that our city and county officials are beginning to understand what disaster preparedness means, something they showed during the preparation for Hurricane Dennis. The question remains, "Are we really ready?" In our estimation we are not.

One area we are lagging is in the position of emergency management coordinator. While we commend the county for providing some funding for this position, more is needed so that a professional, full-time emergency management coordinator can truly manage such disasters on the state level and get the help, and funding, that is needed to responsibly equip our county for the worst case scenario.

It's obvious to us, based on the current cycle of violent weather and from listening to forecasters who predict such events, that we need to get used to dealing with hurricanes and other natural disasters for the foreseeable future, and we can't continue to rely on a position that is partially funded and poorly equipped to handle situations such as what is going on in south Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

We encourage the county and the city to come together and look at what can be done from a cooperative standpoint to fund such a position.

We see this as a priority and the people of Butler County deserve nothing less.