Boone County prepares for crises and natural disasters

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COLUMBIA - With Texas and Louisiana still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the Boone County Commission is taking steps to improve the community's response to emergency disasters and crises.

It enrolled in an emergency management course hosted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The commission read its letter of agreement between the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA at the Boone County Commission meeting Thursday. 

“I think it does bring that home, that no community is absent of the threat of natural disaster," Tom Hurley, deputy director of emergency management of Boone County said. 

The Integrated Emergency Management Course or IEMC is a four-day course that practices simulated crisis situations. According to the FEMA website, it combines classroom lectures, discussions, small-group planning sessions, and exercise-based training to build skills needed to take productive action in the case of an emergency. 

The county had to submit an application to FEMA to participate in the course. It was selected this past June, making Boone County one of 12 applications to be accepted nationwide. 

"We wrote a strong application. We illustrated a need locally to be able to do that. The folks that decide that in Emmitsburg agreed with us and selected our community to participate," Hurley said. 

Around 75 officials from government agencies, senior level personnel from response agencies and organizations, and representatives form volunteer organizations will head to Emmitsburg, Maryland where the course will take place.  

"We're trying to increase capacity for response in our community and build relationships and increase familiarization across a wide spectrum of members in our community.”

The Boone County Commission approved the budget for IEMC, which amounted to $47,000.

FEMA is expected to provide a reimbursement for that cost. 

The funding comes from the 2017 Emergency Management Performance Grant Program, which was authorized by the Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act and Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. The program provides Federal funds to help governments prepare for all hazards.