Sedgwick Co. to consider plan for future disaster aid

If and when a disaster strikes, Sedgwick County leaders want to be prepared.


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WICHITA -- If and when a disaster strikes, Sedgwick County leaders want to be prepared.

Last week, county commissioners said they needed more time to look over a hazard mitigation plan. The 19-county plan was created by the Kansas Division of Emergency Management and will help provide aid to a community after major disasters.

"Mitigation actions are either things to help prevent the occurrence of a disaster or if we can't stop that disaster, to lessen it's impact," said Randy Duncan, Director of Emergency Management.

Currently, the county is a part of a former state-approved plan. Duncan says it's effective at keeping people safe during a natural disaster or terror attack. At Wednesday's commission meeting, they'll review this new plan.

"We put in warning systems to warn the public so that they can escape the direct impacts of a disaster," he said. "We put in physical construction. For example, probably the best known mitigation effort in our particular community we call the "big ditch," and basically that protects all of downtown Wichita from flooding."

Major disasters can have a lasting affect on a community.

In April 2012, severe storms and tornadoes swept across Harper, Rice, Sedgwick and Sumner counties. According to the Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee, that disaster cost the community nearly $7 million dollars.
According to the near-1000-page document, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding are the biggest concerns for the region. Sedgwick County is one of the most susceptible to tornadoes.

However, commissioner Karl Peterjohn said he was hesitant to move forward with the plan without a thorough review and some revisions. He noted that the document mentioned the Summer of Mercy and attacks against the late Dr. George Tiller. The plan refers to Tiller as an "anti-abortion activist," when Tiller was an abortion doctor -- he supported a woman's choice to have an abortion.

Randall said if the county does not approve this plan, it will have to wait five years before being eligible for funding against. Refusal would not hurt other counties involved, but it could cut aid requests for townships, cities and school districts.

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