To the editor:
I have been the director of the Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency and I worked at that agency for over 25 years. I departed the agency as director during Mayor (Shirley) Franklin’s term at a time when her staff made it very difficult for a professional emergency manager to do the job that needed to be done in the city of Atlanta.
Your article in the April 9 – 22 Buckhead reporter entitled “City disaster plan may not be up to date” is really just the tip of the iceberg.
I will give you examples:
The fact that in your article city public safety leaders think that Fulton County is responsible for emergency management in the city of Atlanta. Please look over City Code 50-24. You can access the city code for free at http://www.municode.com. It makes it very clear as to how Emergency Management is to function in Atlanta. The name of the agency is the Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency, not Fulton County Emergency Management.
You are probably not going to find the “evacuation plan” that was so prevalent in your article. What is available (and probably current) is the Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). This is the plan for how all disasters are handled in the city of Atlanta and Fulton County. The fact that your reporter was never told this by the Atlanta Police Chief or the Atlanta Fire Chief is very disturbing.
The EOP is something of a toolkit for disaster response and recovery. It addresses such functions as alert notification, evacuation, emergency transportation, emergency shelters. The EOP can be used to evacuate any area of the city of Atlanta for whatever the reason. The EOP also handles floods, winter storms, and any other disaster that might befall Atlanta.
In the past several years, with the shrinking budgets of Fulton County and city of Atlanta, it is hard to think of (and properly fund) emergency management. It is like buying flood insurance when the sun is shining. No one wants to think about disasters until they happen. Unfortunately the time for government departments to meet and discuss emergency management issues is while the sun is shining.