Marion plans to update her emergency management plan

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Incident Commander Marion, Fire Chief Deb Krebill speaks during a disaster response team meeting at the Marion Command Center at Marion Town Hall in Marion, Iowa on Thursday, August 20, 2020 (Jim Slosiarek / The Gazette)

After last year’s derecho, Marion is in the process of developing a new emergency management plan starting this year.

Fire Chief Deb Krebill said the last time the city updated its plan, Marion, a city of over 41,000, was half its current size.

“Because of our growth, we have to review everything,” Krebill said. “The emergency plan to which we are currently subject was drawn up for half of the population. I have been calling for a new plan for years.

The city will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Institute of Emergency Management and Linn County Emergency Management to develop the plan and implement the training.

Instead of producing an after action review document like Cedar Rapids and Linn County, city leaders got together earlier this year and discussed what went well and what needs to be worked on.

“At the time, it was decided that a real written report was not necessary as we would start developing our city’s new emergency plan anyway,” Krebill said. “We found that a lot of people had never been in an emergency operations exercise before. So when the derecho happened, I was tasked with telling everyone what to do.

The city plans to implement training exercises with the Linn County Emergency Management and may establish its own data list for people with various health needs in the community. Marion will also study more spaces for shelters.

“We need to have training plan agreements with different agencies for shelters and mutual aid agreements,” Krebill said.

Part of the plan will be to establish a committee that would include all city departments, city council members, nonprofits, Linn County emergency management as well as members of the public, Krebill told city council. .

Linn County Emergency Management Coordinator Steve O’Konek said he’s been in frequent contact with Krebill and will do whatever he can for Marion while they update their plan .

“Really, our partnership with Marion is that if they said, ‘We want to sit down and work on a contingency plan,’ we sit down at the table and help them go through things to consider like accommodation. , long-term recovery, infrastructure plans, etc., ”he said.

O’Konek said training plans with the city are already underway.

” She is [Krebill] asked for different training, elected leadership training, ”O’Konek said. “A lot of times officials come and go and they may not be familiar with emergency management, so it’s huge. “

The city will also receive direction from the Institute of Emergency Management for the written plan and training could begin in January. The city is now awaiting the hiring of a new city manager and the next municipal election before plunging fully in, Krebill said.

“We can also benefit from the EMI training and have a common mindset about how we approach all hazards and conditions,” City Council member Grant Harper said at the council meeting on last month.

Other local governments have completed after action reviews. Cedar Rapids hired consultant Atchison Consulting of Tennessee in the spring for $ 25,000 to conduct their review.

Linn County hired Collective Clarity for $ 40,000 to do its own assessment as well. Marion did not participate in the county exam when asked.

“This is an internal document and technically, as Marion, we haven’t worked very closely with the Linn County EMA so we can’t really comment on what happened or them. actions taken by them, ”Krebill told the council.

After the derecho, the town of Marion set up a command center at Town Hall where department heads took on new roles in disaster response and met several times a day to discuss the recovery .

“I was impressed with the way we got the job done,” Krebill said of the city staff. “Most of our employees had no training, it was like we knew exactly what we were doing. We always train for tornadoes and a tornado takes a path. But you still have resources outside the path. Who is training for a derecho? This has never happened before. Therefore, there was no plan.

Krebill said Marion’s new emergency management plan will ensure the city is prepared if ever a large-scale disaster like the derecho strikes again.

“We are going to be ready,” she said.

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