Archive for Thursday, June 9, 2005

City to start work on emergency plan

Saturday’s weather underscores need

June 9, 2005

At the behest of mayor Chris Garcia, the Basehor City Council is considering beginning to develop a management and response plan for times of emergencies or disasters.

During Monday night's Basehor City Council meeting, Garcia told council members that a plan must be put in place. The mayor's suggestion comes on the heels of Saturday night's stormy weather.

"We could have very easily had a tornado," Garcia said. "A plan has to be put in place if we do have a tornado."

Chuck Magaha, Leavenworth County's emergency management director and a Basehor resident, told council members he could help the city develop an emergency plan.

Magaha said he believed the city had a plan in place in the 1970s, but that it is most likely outdated. He said that city officials could use county resources as a beginning point in developing a plan, but that procedures in times of crisis must be tailored to the city.

"I can assist the city in developing a plan but it has to be a city plan," Magaha said.

He said a plan needs to be based on preparedness, response and recovery.

"These are just simple things we need to look at," Magaha said. He added, "In putting those phases together, it will assist the city in developing a plan.

"The city just has to look at it and say what is pertinent to the city of Basehor."

Magaha also noted that state or federal agencies do not always respond quickly in times of need.

He said that acquiring state or federal aid is sometimes a lengthy process and that city officials need to develop mutual aid agreements with other area municipalities for times when other resources aren't available.

City council president John Bonee said council members should begin preliminary work immediately on developing policies.

"Unless you just whittle at it you're never going to get anywhere," Bonee said.

Garcia said the city would soon call elected officials and department heads together for a "brainstorming" meeting in which emergency scenarios and procedures for the city to respond are contemplated.

Saturday night proved a prime example of the need for the city to develop definitive procedures and practices for emergency situations.

City council member Iris Dysart, who lives at Hickory Villa senior center, said several residents couldn't get into Basehor City Hall during Saturday's inclement weather. City hall is typically opened to residents as a safe haven during bad weather.

Basehor police officers said that city hall was unlocked Saturday night for area residents, in time for them to take shelter in the basement.

However, it is believed there was some confusion regarding which of the building's doors were unlocked.

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