OKLAHOMA EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT WEEK IS MARCH 20-26
Emergency managers from across state will meet at Capitol on March 23
Next week communities all across Oklahoma will join in recognizing emergency managers at city, county and state levels and the more than $946 million in disaster aid their efforts have delivered in the last decade. Gov. Mary Fallin has proclaimed March 20-26 as Emergency Management Week and similar proclamations have been issued locally.
Oklahoma’s rich disaster history stands as a reminder of the trying conditions that can be delivered by natural and man-made incidents, explained Albert Ashwood, director, Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM). “Whether it’s February’s back to back blizzards or the wildfires experienced earlier this month, Oklahoma emergency managers are often called upon to work around the clock doing what they do best – supporting response and recovery efforts by coordinating the delivery of vital resources,” said Ashwood. Oklahoma ranks third in the nation in the number of presidentially-declared disasters, behind Texas and California, respectively.
On Wednesday, March 23 emergency managers will take their message of disaster preparedness to the State Capitol. The Oklahoma Emergency Management Association (OEMA) is hosting the event designed to deliver discussion on the response, recovery, preparedness and mitigation efforts of emergency managers. A Legislative Reception featuring displays illustrating the work of emergency managers will be held from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Fourth Floor Rotunda.
Emergency managers exist at the federal level through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), at the state level through OEM and at the local level representing municipalities and counties. Some schools and tribal nations also have emergency managers. Many of today’s emergency managers are yesterday’s civil defense workers. Emergency managers support response and recovery efforts during disaster times by working, often behind the scenes, to coordinate the identification, deployment and use of needed resources by police, fire, emergency medical and other first responders.
In recent years, emergency managers helped Oklahomans during tornadoes, ice storms, drought conditions, wildfires, hazardous materials incidents, floods and school violence incidents. They helped get drinking water, food and shelter to those who had none, additional law enforcement and fire suppression where the flames threatened lives and homes, and hay to livestock where the ground was snow-covered.
Emergency managers also work year round to prevent and decrease the effects of disasters through mitigation projects. Since 1999, more than $88 million in mitigation funds have provided residential and school safe rooms; outdoor warning systems; acquisition of repetitive loss properties; community hazard mitigation plans and NOAA all hazard radios.