03/30/12 In the wake of southern Indiana storms that left entire towns decimated earlier this month, Marshall County elected officials are seriously considering how prepared they are for a similar event to occur in the local area.

“It’s not if it happens here, it’s when it happens here,” said Clyde Avery, Marshall County Emergency Agency director Wednesday in a joint meeting with the county council members and commissioners.

Avery reminded the officials that they are ultimately responsible for the safety of people living under their jurisdiction. He and the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department 911 director Matt Pitney gave a presentation based on their experiences in Henryville, where they were recently deployed to relieve local disaster personnel. Avery and Pitney are part of a District Two task force team contacted by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) and asked to help with disaster recovery in southern Indiana.

Most of Avery’s presentation centered on the financial impact a natural disaster might have on Marshall County. He said that the total cost for debris removal alone after the southern Indiana storms was estimated to be about $15 million — and that’s not including any rebuilding costs. Avery said that much of those costs could be reimbursed to local government by the state or even federal government, if damages were properly documented.

“We have to exhaust all our local resources first, before we ask for assistance from state or federal government,” explained Avery.

He said that Marshall County does have a team established that is trained to assess and document damages in the case of a disaster.

“We are weak in the area of emergency public information,” said Avery. “People don’t take that seriously.”

Avery also said that he would like to set up official mutual aid agreements between municipalities in the county and contracts with companies so price-gouging would be prevented at the time of an incident.

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