Upon County Emergency Management Agency Director Martha Ann McCarty gave the Yatesville City Council an update on what she hopes the EMA can accomplish over the next five years, including replacing the current weather siren in Yatesville with one that will cover a greater distance. The council held its monthly meeting on May 13.
McCarty, who was named EMA Director in January after Billy Mitcham retired, stated that after attending directors school, she and other EMA Directors around the state have learned that they need to start putting together local assistance groups, because financial help from FEMA after a disaster is not a guarantee.
“What we are finding out, and the tornado in Adairsville is a perfect example of it, is that there is not any money from FEMA if anything happens. Adairsville had significant damage from that tornado that went through. GEMA got on scene and pulled together some preliminary damage assessment totals and came up with about $12.1 million worth of damage in that little town. When they called the FEMA representative in Atlanta and told him, he did nothing. They would have had to sustain $16.4 million in government infrastructure damage before FEMA would even think about coming. It looks as if they are looking for reasons to not come and help,” said McCarty.
“What we did learn from Adairsville is that the faith-based community, and civic organizations, and the private citizens, are being the ones who are stepping forward and rebuilding that community. There is an advantage to that because you don’t have to follow the federal guidelines.
“So I’m going to be trying to pull together a coalition to go ahead and establish for Upson County a faith-based disaster response group. We’ve got a lot of churches that could certainly be involved with this. We already have a good base with the ministerial association that has already drawn a lot of churches in the community together. But we need to build on that and broaden the horizons. What I would like to see is us come together as a 501-c-3 non-profit organization that can go ahead and begin to seek out volunteers and, if some people see the need, seed money. That way, we will have something already there when a disaster happens.”
McCarty added that she would also like to expand the county’s current warning sirens. While the sirens are mainly to warn people who are outside, she said the sirens are another layer of defense. Purchasing new sirens would cost $18,000 to $20,000 per siren, but McCarty said she has found a person in Dodge County who restores old sirens for $4,000 to $6,000 per siren, and that she hopes to be able to get a grant to purchase more sirens, including a larger one for Yatesville.
“Yatesville’s siren covers approximately a half-mile radius. I want to take that one down and relocate it to another part of the county that right now doesn’t have a siren, and get one for here that will broaden the coverage out to about a mile and a half radius,” she said. “If we don’t get the grant, I’d like you to consider that if you have contingency funds, that we could at least get a siren up out here that will warn the people even more.”
McCarty went on to thank Yatesville for the city’s continued support of the EMA and its programs.