POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) - A special debriefing took place in the Pocahontas Community Center on Thursday.
State, county and local officials met with emergency responders to discuss everything that transpired during the recent flooding that took place.
Pocahontas Mayor Kary Story said there were only a couple of things discussed they could improve on.
"It was basically a good rehash," Story said. "Of what all we have done and what all we accomplished throughout this crisis here. Some things we might could do better, like I pointed out in the meeting, is our shelter. It was a very successful operation, but we probably needed a second drop off location. I believe that would help make it a little smoother. Overall, learned that our agencies throughout the state, city and county all work together very well here in Randolph County."
Pocahontas Police Chief Cecil Tackett said he was pleased with everyone's performance during the flooding incident.
"Everything went good," Tackett said. "This is our most recent flood, of course. We had a learning curve there. We were more prepared this time. Our evacuations went extremely well. Rescue recovery went good. All agencies worked good together. It was a successful event."
Randolph County Judge David Jansen said he was also happy with everyone's professionalism.
"The disaster went as smooth as it could for the event," Jansen said. "Not a lot of issues out there. Everybody did their job and did it well. And when you do your job well and know your job, things are going to go smooth."
Pocahontas Fire Chief Darrel Kester said everyone working together early on helped their success.
"The early sharing of information between agencies was a big deal," Kester said. "We had a lot of bridges that were built by Game and Fish came in and built themselves as a supporting agency. From a fire department's perspective, we looked at them as a leader agency. We were able to work together and supply what each of us could to bring to it. State police came in with the mobile command. Mobile command provided communications equipment that we as a community would not be able to field to the volume. With those things and other players that were here cooperating with the consolidation of those resources we were able to efficiently address the issues that we had rather than doubling back and leaving things out."
Jansen said there was very little discussed that needed to be changed.
"We had a good turnout today," Jansen said. "And I never heard anything negative. It was all positive. And I preach this all the time. We've got the best folks in Randolph County. When we have an issue we all join hands. I'm telling you, it showed in this event. As bad as it was everybody, and I'm not just talking about emergency management and all the specialty agencies, the fire department, sheriff's department and mayor, our residents jumped up and kept everybody fed during the events. They were helping neighbors. They were helping people they didn't even know. And that's a blessing. It's a blessing when you live in a county like that."
Jansen did mention the need for some additional radios.
"AWIN radios," Jansen said. "We need to get some AWIN radios to the Arkansas Highway Department. And that's an easy fix. All we've got to do is request them and we'll get them to them."
Jansen also said the press conference alerted people early to the problems that would be coming.
"Being up front," Jansen said. "When we called ya'll, you came up and we did a press conference and said 'We know this levee is not going to hold. This is an evacuation, mandatory.' We couldn't remove them physically, but most of them took heed to the warning and they left."
Above all, Jansen said what was most important was that no one was hurt.
"No loss of life," Jansen said. "I keep preaching that. That's what I said in the press conference. Our number one goal is no loss of life and we achieved that. And everybody here today, our regular citizens pitched in. It was wonderful."
Kester said all the agencies working well together made all the difference.
"Today's meeting was really important," Kester said. "I was really pleased with it. We had all the players that were there on the table today. And the biggest thing I think everyone reiterated was we had excellent cooperation between agencies. And because of that cooperation we were able to meet our number one goal of the whole disaster which was to preserve lives. It feels good, particularly in a small community, to know that everybody brought what they had to the table and they were willing to put it all out there. And then end result was we met the goals we started with."
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