Denise Petet

We’ve had an emergency manager here, and she’s occasionally run into some issues, which kinda lead into this.

Some see planning for disasters as a waste of time and resources. ‘it’ll never happen, so why are we wasting time on this…..stuff’.

Thing is, you have to.

Power lines go down and you literally have deathtraps under peoples’ feet. but how do you direct utility workers to go to ‘fifth and main’ to fix a down pole when there are no road signs and even the locals can’t find their way? (which happened in greensburg. the twister took everything, including road signs. life long residents couldn’t find their way around). People used scrap wood to make road signs.

People take water for granted, and toilets, but if the power is out in a large area you can lose the treatment plant. If you have fires, how do you get water to the sites? You can’t have cleanup crews of hundreds and no toilets. So I would think that an emergency manager would have prior arrangements at local johnny on the job places, so they dont’ have to go looking for them, just have to get a message through. (and prior arrangements can be something as simple as a piece of paper with a phone number on it and how many they have and how fast they can get them there)

They need to set up a command post and communication point…and that communication will be flyers adn notes tacked to a bulletin board. Can’t print out a sign or send an e-mail when there’s no power.

You need a bank, you need food and water distribution. You need to help businesses open back up.

You just systematically prioritize. I think greensburg was under martial law for several days, and the highway through the town was closed down for a month. The road was fine, but they needed to clear rubble, and didn’t need highway traffic in the way. So there were detours on each end, manned 24/7 for a month, to detour traffic.

I would think that communication is vital.

A situation they ran into in Greensburg, every single responding entity had a different radio frequency. They all had radios but literally couldn’t talk to each other. The DOT brought in a communications system and passed out radios and then you no longer had the situation of ‘ed has all the radios, he’s our relay’. People take communications for granted. Thing is, power goes out to the cell towers, they are useless. Lines go down and phones don’t work.

People just need to sit down and pretend they’re in the middle of nowhere and what do they need and just work it out. And I think there also needs to be an acknowledgement that administrators dont’ always make good ‘doers’. And that’s who you need, someone that can work with people but gets stuff done, and isn’t afraid to do it themselves, yet is able to delegate. They can’t get so fixated on a little thing that they lose sight of the big picture.

Survivors also need to know and be told that the help won’t be there forever. The town needs to look to taking care of itself and then build goals and work crews, etc, along that. Be honest with them that while the town might get federal aid, there’s only so much it can do.

I think clear lines of communication along with realistic goals. Sure, you want the power back, but, when you’re facing devastation as bad as Joplin’s, there are some parts of the city that won’t get power back for weeks/months, simply because there’s nothing to run the power to. So you coordinate with the local power company, and you be honest about what they say. Don’t make promises you can’ t keep. And people need to know from the outset that ‘normal’ won’t be around for a very long time.

Be honest about what doesn’t get done, but celebrate what does.

Joplin will likely be on their own by the end of June or so. They’re going to have to sit down, figure out what they’re going to do, will things be rebuilt, what if some don’t want to rebuild, and just take it one day at a time. And know that, ten years from now, there will still be scars.