Harrisburg Implements Emergency Management Plan

February 1, 2005--Posted at 6:00 p.m. CST

HARRISBURG-- A Poinsett Couty emergency plan is putting children first.

The U.S. congress passed an act establishing the plan in which $4 million was provided to the county.

They are putting that money to use by implementing an emergency plan to protect its citizens in case of disaster.

"Our biggest threat in Poinsett County since we are on the center of the earthquake zone, is a major earthquake. That's number one, but it doesn't occur as frequently as our other disasters," Poinsett County Emergency Management Coordinator Merle Williams says.

"Even in a small town, you can never be too safe and not expect something to happen," Harrisburg High Counselor Dennis Graham says.

"Floods and tornados are probably our two and three natural hazards that occur more frequently and cause more damage," Williams says.

The county has designated nearly $200 thousand to individual citizens for disaster preparation.

This money is used to build individual safe rooms and storm shelters, but the main focus for the plan includes the youth.

"Almost every school district in Poinsett County now has safe rooms for all children," Williams says.

The saferoom may seem like an ordinary space, but it serves a dual purpose.

Everything in the room can be broken down and rolled away in case of disaster.

The rooms can hold up to 450 children and can be ready for use within 10 minutes.

"They will withstand a 250 mile an hour wind. They're built as a unit so that in an earthquake, they would stay together almost like Noah's Arc," Williams says.

"Anything that serves as protection for children has to be beneficial and has to be money well spent," Graham says.