HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Earlier this week, Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw adopted a multi-jurisdiction hazard mitigation plan as approved by state and federal emergency management agencies.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), hazard mitigation is any action taken to reduce or eliminate long term risk to people and property from natural disasters. Hazard mitigation planning is a process used by state, tribal, and local governments to identify risks and vulnerabilities associated with natural disasters and develop mitigation strategies to reduce or eliminate long term risks.
Towns County was awarded a $21,000 federal grant to fund the project. Additional grants were stated as available.
Towns County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Rickey Mathis was on hand to explain the program. Mathis imparted that the strategy is not a cookie-cutter template, rather the local emergency operation plan is designed specifically for Towns County, and focuses on the hazards most likely to occur within the immediate area.
Mathis stressed that personal preparation is of utmost importance. “Prepare your own self. Prepare your family,” the EMA director advised, explaining that while emergency crews are trained to identify and respond to widespread disaster, resources could become exhausted in the event of a catastrophe.
Information on emergency preparedness can be found at ready.gov
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HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The Mountain Movers & Shakers held their regular weekly meeting at Sundance Grill on the morning of Friday, Jan. 12, 2017, and participants were treated to speaker Kimberly Miller, the coordinator for a local preparedness program aptly named “Are You Ready?”
Scheduled to begin tomorrow, Saturday, Jan. 13, in the fellowship hall of Christ the King Anglican Church on Main Street in Hiawassee, the course is formatted to provide the community with the information necessary to withstand emergency situations. A total of nine courses will be offered, free of charge. Citizens of all ages are invited to attend.
“We are neighbors helping neighbors,” Kimberly Miller said as she explained several different situations that could adversely affect the community. Issues ranging from income loss due to the economy, weather events, or tragedies of a grander scale, such as an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, were brought to the group’s attention.
Miller says the plan to produce the program surfaced after much prayer to seek God’s guidance.
The first class will be presented by recently retired Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Captain Joe Hughart, a current professor at the University of North Georgia. Hughart will instruct a two-hour course on what to expect should area residents require government assistance due to natural or man-made disasters.
Subsequent courses will be held every other Saturday, the final lesson taking place on April 28. Each class will begin at 10 a.m., ending at noon.
Included in the syllabus is a review of essentials each individual and household requires in order to prepare for emergency conditions. Kimberly Miller will pair those who are new to prepping with a mentor during the second class on Jan. 27. Participants are encouraged to bring their personal “bug out” survival kits along if one has been created.
Future lessons including healthcare, essential oils for medicinal use, food preparation, such as bread making and dehydration measures, small-space gardening, and self-defense are listed as topics of instruction, each taught by individuals proficient in the scheduled subject.
First-aid skills will be offered during an extended April 14 class, held between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. This course will also provide information on emergency communications as well as improvements that can be made to neighborhood watch programs. Lunch will be served with reservations requested by Thursday, April 12.
To reserve a space, acquire a schedule, or receive additional information, contact Coordinator Kimberly Miller at email@example.com or Communications Coordinator Diane Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christ the King church asks participants to kindly park at Cochran Funeral Home if church space is limited, rather than in front of neighboring businesses.
Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns, and Murray counties, as well as Cherokee County in N.C. – FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. – For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com
From the Desk of Towns County Sheriff Christopher M. Clinton:
There are a number of things that each family can do to be prepared for an emergency situation. There are any number of weather events that can create an emergency on a very large scale and for those who are unprepared the consequences can be devastating.
Events such as tornadoes, flooding, winter ice storms, heavy snow, and extreme cold don’t happen all the time, but when they do happen, families can be stranded for days without help. During a major event, it may take rescue workers and utility crews several days to reach certain locations. Tornadoes and winter storms may make roads impassible for long periods of time, in essence, trapping people in their homes and preventing help from getting to them until roads can be cleared. Other events, such as flooding, may require people to evacuate their homes.
Because these types of events can and do happen, there are some things that families should do to be prepared for an emergency. The Georgia Emergency Management Agency offers many tips. The following information is compiled in large part from their recommendations and I believe they are helpful if implemented:
- Families should consider installing safety features in their homes. A NOAA weather radio can alert you to rapidly changing weather conditions and let you know if a serious event is likely. Smoke detectors and fire extinguishers should be in each home.
- Home owners should regularly inspect their home for potential hazards such as items that can fall, break, or catch fire and correct these issues.
- It is a good idea for family members to learn CPR and first aid, as well as how to use a fire extinguisher, or how and when to turn off water, gas, or electricity to the home.
- Children should be taught how and when to call 9-1-1 for help.
- Families should keep enough supplies, including medical supplies and medicines to last for at least three days.
- Families should have a plan and discuss where to go in the home in the event of a severe thunder storm or tornado and what to do in the event of a flood. Children especially need to know and practice this.
- In the event you need to evacuate your home you will need an emergency supply kit. A good kit should include enough water to last three days (one gallon of water per person per day), food that will not spoil, a change of clothes and shoes for each person, a blanket, or sleeping bag for each person, a first aid kit that includes any prescription medications, emergency tools, extra car keys, cash. Infants and disabled persons may need specialty items and they should be included. A kit should be ready to transport in easy to carry containers such as back packs or duffel bags.
While the possibility of experiencing a disaster is unpleasant to consider, having a well-considered, discussed, and practiced plan can make a tremendous difference in the safety of all concerned.
Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. – FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. – For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com
Towns County, GA – September is National Preparedness Month and Towns County government, along with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and Homeland Security, encourage residents to prepare for unexpected situations in advance.
Towns County, along with a nationwide coalition of thousands of private, public, and nonprofit organizations, will host local events and initiatives designed to motivate people to take the necessary steps to ensure their homes, workplaces and communities are prepared for disasters and emergencies.
“National Preparedness Month is a perfect opportunity for people to evaluate their emergency plan, and if they don’t have one, to make one,” says Rickey Mathis, Director of Towns County Emergency Management Agency.
Residents can learn how to prepare and stay informed in the event of natural or man-made disasters by visiting ready.ga.gov.
By creating a Ready Profile, Georgians can construct a tailor-made plan for their families which will include the specific amount of supplies necessary for household Ready kits.
In addition, the Ready Georgia mobile app provides preparedness information on the go.
Towns County, GA – Towns County Fire and Rescue participated in an emergency preparedness drill on Monday, August 14. The drill was implemented and evaluated by local and state Emergency Management Agencies (EMA). This year’s mock scenario was a tornado disaster which touched down at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds.
Under the supervision of their Pack Leaders, Towns County Cub Scouts, Den #407, played the role of “victims” to provide realistic training for the firefighters involved. The scouts, along with other volunteers, gathered at Anderson Music Hall located on the fairgrounds. Each participant was assigned “injuries” ranging from broken legs to serious trauma by an EMA director.
The group then positioned themselves throughout the dimly lit music hall shortly before 5 p.m. and awaited the arrival of first responders. The firefighters involved were unaware of the situation and the location of the drill until their “tones dropped” at the start of the exercise. The dispatched call relayed a tornado had touched down during a weather event which resulted in the structure of the arena collapsing.
Firefighters arrived on scene, assessed the situation, and suited up in their gear to begin the search for “victims” of the tragedy inside. Those who were able to walk were lead to a triage station outdoors. Those who could not were triaged inside of the concert hall.
Fetch Your News correspondent, Robin Webb, was invited to play the role of a “pesky reporter”, along with other reporters who covered the drill, by EMA Deputy Director Brandon Walls. She was instructed to hinder first responders by attempting to learn information and gain access to restricted areas in order to test the response of firefighters. After a short time inside the arena, she was asked to remain in the parking area.
The media is typically prohibited from passing beyond the set perimeter of real life emergency scenes.
Meanwhile on Lake Chatuge, which borders the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, a secondary scenario was taking place. The training consisted of a search and rescue effort conducted by the Towns County Fire and Rescue Dive Team.
According to Captain Terry Parker, three boaters were said to have been on the lake when the tornado tossed them into the water. One boater was still with the vessel, another, simulated by a mannequin, was said to have been seen clinging to a fence, while the third boater’s whereabouts were unknown. Cadaver dogs were called while a land search ensued. The male “victim” was located in a ditch, alive but “injured”.
When asked how he thought the crew performed, Battalion Chief Harold Koppell said he felt they did well for the first drill of this type. “It took a little while to get in there, but in a real life situation you don’t want to go in like gangbusters. That’s how people get hurt,” Koppell explained.
The exercise ended with a group briefing attended by Fire Chief Harold Copeland and Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw.
Chief Copeland tells Fetch Your News the purpose of the exercise was to test the firefighters strengths and discover aspects which could be improved upon.
“We never stop training,” Chief Copeland affirmed.