It will be three years since Hurricane Katrina woke up America to emergency preparedness, and Kent county still isn’t ready for an emergency. It has been two years since the Dow/ Reichhold accident and we are still not ready. They couldn’t even handle the recent minor flooding in Kitts Hummock and Bower’s Beach. What if we had a chemical spill with toxic chemicals? What if we had a major storm and had wide spread flooding?
Tell me there is not a critical failure of leadership. The sad part is I doubt Kent county is alone. The state has made improvements but they didn’t filter down to the counties very well.
The lack of emergency preparedness concerns me. The Reichhold Chemical incident was our wake up call and our county leadership seems to have hit the snooze alarm. I testified before the state and city governments about our concerns, but I don’t see enough movement on the county level. The notification system is still not sufficient. The county needs to take charge and make sure the citizens are protected.
I know from my duty providing Katrina Relief with the National Guard that local government matters. Whether the relief operation went smoothly or was a source of frustration was directly related to the competence of the local officials. I saw elected officials who rose to being local heroes selflessly serve their community. They were models of leadership. I saw others get in way, and even divert aid to their friends. I saw first hand that local government matters. My family lives here and I am not comforted by our lack of coordination between first responders and the local government.
Each person needs to take responsibility for themselves and their families, but we still need government to keep us informed and help us when we need it. It is crazy for there to have been a chemical spill and the local hospital not be informed why people are coming in when the government is on site. It was beyond belief that people were going to shelters and Red Cross not be notified that the shelter was open let alone to stock it. It is absurd that there are no sirens to go off during an emergency because they are loud. It is sad that a recent storm came and people were stuck in their homes because the roads were flooded and the government didn’t even invest in marking the roads so emergency vehicles could find them. Every year we still have failures. It is like we heard the wake up call and hit the snooze.
We need at least one person to bring up these issues for the sake of your families. We need real change.