Jackson County Could Begin Hurricane Season Without Civil Defense Coordinator

The sandbags county workers and inmates are filling now will be ready and waiting if a tropical storm or hurricane threatens this year. But supervisors have not filled one of the county's most important jobs for the hurricane season, Civil Defense Coordinator.

"We definitely want to have someone on board as quickly as possible," District 5 Supervisor John McKay says.

McKay says one of the hold ups is that supervisors aren't sure what they want to do with the position.

"Do we want to combine a couple of departments such as E-911 and civil defense, or do we want to hire a safety director that would be over civil defense and the county safety program?" McKay asked.

It's the Civil Defense Coordinator's job to work with state and federal agencies during emergencies and natural disasters, apply for disaster relief grants and to oversee Homeland Security.

County leaders say they'd like to have someone in place before hurricane season starts. But should that not happen, they'll go to Plan B.

County Administrator Alan Sudduth would coordinate disaster response teams and county personnel.

"We'd also be responsible for communicating with FEMA and MEMA after the hurricane occurred," Sudduth says.

"We have personnel through our sheriff's department's responder team, our road department that have been through this situation before and would know how to react and respond and know what to do."

County leaders say they should have a better idea of what they plan to do regarding the civil defense position when they meet again on May 17.

This week supervisors also began looking for additional storm shelters Right now they only have three.

Hurricane season begins June first.

by Josh Ridgdell