Shelby County officials examine emergency plan - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Shelby County officials examine emergency plan

The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina has local officials worried about a crisis here in the Mid-South and second-guessing the plans they already have in play. 

They've been working around the clock at the local emergency operations center, managing evacuees, moving around resources, responding to new problems.  And - on top of that - they're now trying to figure out what to do if a comparable crisis hits a lot closer to home.

The Shelby County Emergency Operations Center has been buzzing ever since Katrina.

Agency officials are on 12 hour shifts.

But the man in charge is now pulling double duty, trying to make sure Shelby County is ready for a similar crisis.

"It's putting the stress on me and my personnel at this point.  I have a very small staff to deal with this," said EMA Director Claude Talford.

The Shelby County emergency plan, the blueprint laid out for massive emergencies, was last revised in 2002.  Katrina has blown all eyes back in the direction of the big book and the risk of a big earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton tells us he wants to revise the plan now, instead of next year, when it's technically scheduled.

He wants to expand the EMA.  And he's worried about the relationship between the EMA and the Homeland Security Department, criticized nationally in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"It makes no sense to me, quite frankly," said Wharton.

He says it may work nationally, but worries it won't work locally.    "Suppose lawlessness breaks out, how do i then go back and pull in homeland security when they should have been there on the front lines from the very beginning."

Wharton has asked for an update to the Shelby County emergency plan by Friday.

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