Homeland Security Concerns - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

06/09/03

Homeland Security Concerns

Since the terrorist attacks on September 11th, the role of emergency managers across the nation and here at home has expanded. Homeland Security coordinator has been added to the many hats most wear. This week emergency managers from across the state are meeting in Bay St. Louis for a workshop and convention. Homeland Security is one of the hot topics on their menu of discussion.

Terrorism attacks can happen anywhere.  Emergency Managers meeting in Bay St. Louis this week say thus far it's something they've never had to deal with and hope the never have too. But they must be prepared just in case. Kent Buckley, President of the MEMA Association told WLOX NEWS "Homeland security is one of the big things right now. We're breaking new ground just about everyday on homeland security trying to plan for and figure out what we need to be doing and planning for." The federal government is helping Mississippi and other States get prepared. Buckley said "Grants have been made available in Homeland security to municipalities and counties all over the state. Municipalities with a population of 10 thousand and more and the counties have gotten a round of money assigned to them just recently." Buckley told WLOX NEWS grants will be given to municipalities with smaller populations like Bay St. Louis, in the near future. The money can be used to buy equipment and to conduct training exercise for emergency responders.

Something Linda Rouse Director of Harrison County's Emergency Management Agency says the Coast needs. " I think we could respond to a terrorist attack but I think we'd be better prepared with more training and exercises that go along with the equipment we'll be getting in." She said residents should keep their hurricane supplies handy year round. " Hurricane preparations are the same type of preparations that you would do for a terrorist event just have those materials in our supply kit that would help protect you in the event of an emergency. The common sense things you need to think about to be prepared for what might come up. " The Director of Mississippi's Emergency Management Agency Robert Latham, echoed her words. "Every disaster is going to be chaotic but we know if you prepare before the event that it can be organized chaos and as a result the response and recover will be much better."

The federal grants being issued out will also help communities set up regional response teams. The Coast team covers a six county area.

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