BEECHER CITY — Effingham County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Pamela Jacobs spoke to the Beecher City Village Board this week about developing a community emergency plan.
Beecher City Village President Rita Sue Felty told the board she discussed with Jacobs the possibility of coming up with the plan.
“I’ve been especially concerned about this since the Taylorville tornadoes hit two years in a row about us having a disaster preparedness plan and having people that are trained and know what to do, and who to go to,” Felty said.
Jacobs said the county received a grant to set up a Hazard Mitigation Plan. She said each municipality that participates in the planning is eligible to apply for federal mitigation grants for projects.
According to Jacobs, each municipality must have a representative from the village attend three required meetings. Jacobs said she has worked with Village Trustee and Tri-County Fire Protection District Chief Doug Ray for several years.
“If a disaster happens here in Beecher City, it’s going to be a whole community disaster,” Jacobs said.
“I am the emergency manager for the county,” Jacobs said. “So, I try to plan for a disaster that happens in our county. Our county is big and has several municipalities.”
Jacobs said each municipality has its own strengths and challenges.
“If I am planning for an individual community, it is as if they would be on their own for several days,” Jacobs said. “How could Beecher City be resilient in some sort of disaster?”
Jacobs said there is plenty of outside help coming into the community when there is a tornado. However, if there is a large winter storm, resources from outside of the community wouldn’t be available right away.
Jacobs said the National Weather Service and other weather sources are predicting a bad winter. She said the community should develop an emergency plan in anticipation of a large winter storm that could strand community members for days.
She said in conversations with the village president and Ray, they concluded there is a need for personal and family preparedness, as well as a communitywide preparedness plan.
“We would want families to start thinking about food, water and shelter,” Jacobs said. “People sometimes don’t think about stocking up their pantries in the winter time.”
Another idea Jacobs presented was creating a community shelter in the event a winter storm knocks out power in the community.
“Those are the decisions you as a board would need to make,” Jacobs said. “Whether or not you want to make a community shelter, where you guys organize it or possibly a Red Cross shelter. That is something you can discuss going forward.”
Jacobs suggested thinking about people in the community who might have a medical, law enforcement or food service background to help out with a shelter. She said the board should be thinking about people in the community who could fill those volunteer positions in addition to finding somewhere in Beecher City that would have necessary supplies needed if there is a disaster.
Jacobs stressed the importance of National Incident Management System (NIMS) training and how the training provides a systematic approach to guide departments, non-government organizations, private sector and agencies to work together during times of disaster. She told the board there was online NIMS training available.
“When the county adopted NIMS, the fire department started using it and other departments in the county trained on it,” Jacobs said. “This is so we can all work together with one goal — protecting people.”
“It sounds complex, but it’s really basic,” Ray said. “It makes everybody come together as one and everyone is not running around like a chicken with their head cut off.”
“You might have 200 volunteers show up, and if you don’t know what to do with them, you’ve got a mess,” Ray said. “It’s better to have a plan.”
“This should be a community effort to take care of each other,” Jacobs said.
Felty said she wouldn’t be able to preside over the next board meeting because she would be attending a required meeting organized by Jacobs scheduled for the third Monday of November on the day of a scheduled village board meeting. Felty appointed Village Trustee Stacey Bowlin to preside over the November village board meeting.
In other action, the board:
• Accepted the only bid for $300 for a used dump truck by Doug Gordon.
• Approved a building permit application for a 24-by-31-foot metal two-car garage next to the Bowlin family home.
• Approved a tax levy rate ordinance for 4.549 percent the maximum amount allowed without a referendum.
• Approved the purchase of insurance from Illinois Municipal League Risk Management Association.
• Approved the purchase of a laptop computer that can also be docked for office use for $2,862.49 from the general fund and computer software for the amount of $6,325 from water and sewer account.
• Voted to amend the liquor license ordinance from one Class B liquor license to two.