Recent flooding has area emergency personnel even more convinced that a countywide emergency management team is necessary.
Several area firefighters and members of municipal emergency management teams were prompted to petition for a countywide emergency management coordinator when ice storms left northeast Oklahoma devastated in late December and early January.
“We needed a central contact with a good report with rural firefighters when the storm hit this winter,” said Wyandotte Mayor and rural firefighter Leon Crow. “We need someone that can get supplies to us in these situations. As it is, the emergency management team is limited to what it can do because they have to protect the city of Miami.”
Hundreds of Ottawa County residents were without power during the ice storm - many of them for up to two weeks.
“It was almost impossible to get to everyone,” Crow said. “There wasn't enough manpower.”
Emergency management teams in southeast Kansas and southwest Missouri have spent the past several days canvassing the area after heavy rains pushed the Neosho and Spring rivers well above flood stage.
Dozens of motorists have been rescued attempting to drive through flooded waters. At least one man has drowned trying to cross flooded roads. Bridges have collapsed under rushing water. Several residents in low-lying areas have been evacuated.
Locally, teams have been keeping a close eye on the rising water in preparation for similar conditions in Ottawa County.
The heavy rains have pushed the Neosho River more than four feet above the flood stage. Several sections of Riverview Park are closed now.
A countywide emergency management would give the rural areas of Ottawa County more backbone in crisis like these, according to rural firefighters.
“We really need to establish a county emergency management director,” Crow said.
Funding is the only obstacle for proponents of the proposal. Crow said the county is expected to look at the funding issue after setting its budget for the next fiscal year.