EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Emergency preparedness takes on new meaning

2013-12-15T00:00:00Z 2013-12-18T14:56:07Z EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Emergency preparedness takes on new meaningBy Kristi DeLaurentiis nwitimes.com
December 15, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Meteorologists confirmed more than 74 tornadoes ravaged the Midwest over a two-day period in November, leaving 10 dead and hundreds injured in Illinois and Indiana alone. It is proof that communities need to be prepared for nature’s fury and other disasters.

Local communities have an important role ensuring the safety and welfare of the public. Most have implemented an early warning all-hazards siren system that sounds the alarm when tornadoes are sighted or other emergency situations threaten. Many have also enrolled in emergency preparedness and disaster recovery training, recognizing the welfare of community members may well hinge on successful management and response during crisis. Lansing has gone beyond those steps and worked to reduce our vulnerability to natural and man-made disasters.

While our region missed most of the assault of last month’s tornadoes, we well remember the severe flooding and significant damage that resulted from Hurricane Ike in 2008. The three days of heavy rains taxed local storm water and sewer systems and ruptured flood walls, submerging streets, homes and whole neighborhoods — and cost lives.

The catastrophic loss and resulting economic costs of Hurricane Ike were staggering for our region, with well over $1 billion in damages to homes and businesses.

Since that time, Lansing has prioritized the inspection of its own 1.5 miles of concrete and earthen levees that protect the community along the Little Calumet River. Using grants and the technical assistance of Illinois’ Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the village has conducted a comprehensive inspection and assessment study of its levee system. The goal: ensure flood protection from any severe storms of the future.

More work and constant vigilance will be required, but averting any failure of the levee system and protecting homes and property is key.

The village also began several initiatives related to strategic planning and emergency preparedness. We've examined and updated communications, disaster recovery, and mutual aid plans, and established pre-designated staging areas. We've scrutinized our human and technical resources and invested in life-saving equipment.

The result: Lansing is better prepared for whatever nature can inflict— and more.

Just this month, the Lansing Police Department and the village were recognized by the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System for exemplary work demonstrating best practices for municipal preparedness for disasters of all types.

The award, bestowed upon an elite few communities, means Lansing is prepared for any number of emergency situations.

This is important recognition, but more a sign of continuous improvement and effort to ensure the safety and welfare of the community. 

Kristi DeLaurentiis is director of planning and development for the Village of Lansing. The opinions are the writer's.

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