Lessons learned from Ivan

Published 1:40 am Monday, December 20, 2004

By By Arthur McLean
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Claude A. Allen visited Poarch this week to review the response by federal and local officials after Hurricane Ivan.
Allen also toured the educational and public health facilities at the reservation.
A roundtable discussion was held involving officials from the tribe, City of Atmore, Escambia County Emergency Management Director David Jennings, FEMA and the Alabama Emergency Management Agency.
The discussion covered areas from the response of tribal agencies like the Poarch Fire Department and Police Department to county services and federal agencies like the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The Atmore Advance learned that the response of local agencies was generally regarded well, but a problem arose during the declaring of a state of emergency at the reservation. That declaration had to come through federal sources.
Other items of concern were communication difficulties in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane.
April Sells, a tribal administrator, said the meeting was a success. "We appreciate our friends in the Department of Health and Human Services and the Bureau of Indian Affairs and well as our county officials, and how we all pulled together," Sells said.
Allen said the lessons learned in Poarch after Ivan will reverberate into national security. "This was really a school for us in other areas," Allen said. "We're looking at how to prepare for disasters." Allen alluded to potential disasters that could be caused in the future by terrorists.
Lessons learned, Allen said were, "partnership (with other agencies local and federal) is critically important. Communication is vital. We learned here that some critical systems faired well and some did not, but I think the Poarch Creek Indians did very well. My compliments to the tribal chairman and tribal officials for their work."

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