Archive for Thursday, September 8, 2005

Basehor finalizing disaster-response plan

September 8, 2005

Stormy weather earlier this summer prompted Basehor city officials to begin overhauling the city's management and response plan for times of emergencies or disasters.

Hurricane Katrina, its wrath witnessed from afar and its devastation felt in the hearts of those across the country, reinforced Basehor officials' belief that remaking the emergency plan was the right course of action.

"It just puts more emphasis that if you aren't looking at it, you sure need to now," Basehor mayor Chris Garcia said. "I've always seen it as a priority. We never know when a natural disaster is going to hit.

"If the city is hit by a natural disaster of some kind, we need to know how we could keep functioning."

In late June, the Basehor City Council charged Police Chief Terry Horner with revising its long-outdated and antiquated emergency management plan. The city's current version of a plan has been in place since the 1970s, but there is some question as to whether it's seen a revision since.

Horner said revising the plan has gone smoothly and it should be in place in coming weeks. The revised plan is being modeled after one used by the city of Lansing.

However, Horner said, the city's plan will not be a carbon copy of its neighbor's to the north, but will be "modified for what I think are the needs of Basehor."

"Mainly, you just try to pattern it after what's been successful in other cities," the police chief said, "but it also needs to be tailored to fit the needs of Basehor."

Horner said he hopes to present council members with a rough draft of the emergency management plan by the first or second week of October.

After the plan's installation, the city will name an emergency management plan chairman. Garcia said the position will be filled via an appointment and that the city administrator -- a position not yet filled by the city council -- would most likely inherit the job.

The nightmare scenario in Basehor is that someday the city may fall victim to a town-crushing tornado similar to the funnel that struck Tonganoxie in May 2000.

Garcia said the city's plan must provide a blueprint for dealing with potential disasters such as a tornado destroying residential neighborhoods, City Hall or the wastewater treatment facility.

"The plan is even as specific as to where (we) would get supplies," Garcia said. "That's how detailed it has to be."

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