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Dane County Secures Federal Funds to Hire Mass Evacuation Planner

For more information contact:

Joshua Wescott, 267-8823 or 669-5606

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 7/16/2009

Issued By: County Executive
View only releases from County Executive
Dane County Secures Federal Funds to Hire Mass Evacuation Planner
New Position One of Three in State, Will Focus on Helping Those with Special Needs

Dane County Emergency Management has secured a federal grant for more than $80,000 to better prepare the county in the event of a disaster that requires mass evacuations of people. The focus of the effort will be planning to make sure those with special needs including the disabled, seniors, and lower income individuals are able to get to safety if the need arises.

The new full-time position is funded by a federal Homeland Security Grant, administered by the Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance, and is one of three in the state tasked with improving the mass evacuation plans for the 12 largest metropolitan areas in Wisconsin.

“After the countless family tragedies during Hurricane Katrina there was a renewed focus both within our county and the state to making sure plans are in place to help our most vulnerable citizens in the event of an emergency,” County Executive Kathleen Falk said. “This new effort will develop a system of special needs evacuation shelters in Dane County and work with the agencies and organizations that help those with special needs to promote emergency preparedness.”

One of the lessons learned for disaster planners after Hurricane Katrina was how disproportionately the disaster affected people living at or near the poverty level, the elderly, individuals with medical, physical, or mental challenges, and minorities versus those who didn’t have special needs.

The new full-time planner will build upon the ongoing efforts of a Special Populations Disaster Planning Committee, established by Dane County Emergency Management back in 1990. That multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional group works through a coordinated network to try and help people with special needs be better prepared and advise the county on emergency and disaster planning and response.

Pending final approval of the federal grant by the county board and County Executive, Emergency Management will quickly work to hire a person for the full-time position. That individual will spend the next year coordinating these efforts.
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