Storm tests Bath County emergency plan
Hot Springs, Va. – The June 29th storm put to the test emergency plans that had been developed in Bath County over the course of many years. Those plans along with the good fortune of having phone and internet service helped the county respond quickly. Andy Seabolt is Bath County’s Emergency Services Coordinator.
“What went well ..everything,” says Seabolt. “Our fire/rescue, law enforcement, general public, they worked together. If there was anything good that came out of this, there was no one shining person. Nobody was responsible truly for everything going right, because everybody worked together. Thank everybody, our fire, rescue, law enforcement community, the shelter operators, the homeowners who conserved electricity and worked and took care of their neighbors. It was a shining moment for Bath County. Everybody worked together and did a great job.”
The experience of this storm is providing ideas on plans for future events.
“As far as next time, we did it pretty well,” says Seabolt. “We didn’t have it written down. That’s one of our major problems. We don’t have it written down exactly how these are things should be done. We know it. But when the next group comes in, they many not have the experience that we had. One of the things that concerns me is to think about what could have gone wrong during this incident. One of the great things that didn’t happen is, we didn’t lose communication with radios, we didn’t lose communications with cell phones or telephones. A few places, but not during the entire event. Those are the ones that really get to us. Without communications there’s no way in the world we could have responded like we did. To be ready for next time, we need to make sure our emergency operations plans are correct. And they are agreed upon by all the stakeholders. A process we’ve been working on through our Local Emergency Planning Committee that meets monthly. We also need to do some more planning for redundancy in communications. And not just on radios, but through internet communications, because that’s how all of our communications with the state and the feds was, through internet.”
Kevin Fry is a Bath County Supervisor and the county’s Emergency Services Director.
“I think overall everything went as it should have,” says Fry. “Everyone responded well and everyone did their part. I think the thing that went the best though was our LEPC plan. It was the guideline that I think was the key part in the reason Bath did come out of it as quick as we did. Because we had all these components in place and everybody knew what everybody was going to do. When you look back on it, it wasn’t just a people thing, it was a plan thing. It’s been planned for ten years. And nobody wants this to happen, but we did have a core plan in place and I think that was the main reason we came out of it as good as we did. But I would like to see us get into a regional cooperation with our neighbors. And then next time we have a problem it’s not what do we do, what do we do?’ We know what we can do with our neighbors and how we can help each other. And I’d like to expand upon that, maybe expand the LEPC into neighboring localities, if possible. I don’t know if it can be, but I’d like to see that happen.”
For more information about Bath’s Local Emergency Planning Committee, contact Andy Seabolt at 540-839-7236.