County readies itself for disaster

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 21, 2000

Staff Writer

Dec. 20, 2000 10 PM

About 13 years ago, Alabama law forced counties to take responsibility for their own safety.

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And, Pike County Emergency Management Agency Director Larry Davis is working to establish a Local Emergency Planning Committee.

"The first thing we need to do is form a good LEPC," Davis said during meeting with emergency personnel on Tuesday.

An LEPC’s main purpose is to figure out what could happen and plan how to handle the situation before it does occur.

"Before this is over, I plan to do what Pike County pays me to do ­ have a good EMA," Davis said. "I’ve always been part of a good organization and I want this to be a good organization."

One of Davis’ top priorities is gathering information about the hazardous materials used in Pike County business and industry.

In 1999, the Clean Air Act began requiring businesses and industries to create "worst case scenarios" and release information to employees and the public about what hazardous materials are stored in the facility, Davis said.

"Citizens have a right to know what’s out there," the county EMA director said.

In addition to updating files on what hazardous materials are stored in the county, Davis wants to reestablish shelters for residents.

He said shelters in Pike County are not marked with signs and he would like to see that done, as well as setting up shelters in Banks and Goshen.

But, the LEPC’s main function is figuring out how to handle an emergency situation. The first thing to do being notifying the proper authorities.

"We never know if someone doesn’t call us," Davis said of notifying EMA officials. "We should be one of the first called."

Davis said the first fire chief on the scene will become the one in charge and will be responsible for notifying him in the event of an emergency.

"I’ve got all the confidence in our volunteer fire departments," Davis said. "They play a big part in emergency management."

The LEPC will meet again at 9 a.m. on March 15 at the Pike County Fire Fighters Association office.