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OKLAHOMA EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT WEEK IS FEBRUARY 22-28

02-21-2004

Soon communities all across Oklahoma will join in recognizing emergency managers at the city, county and state level. Gov. Brad Henry has proclaimed February 22-28 Emergency Management Week and similar proclamations have been issued locally.

As recently as the May 8th and 9th tornadoes, Oklahomans were reminded of the trying conditions that can be delivered by natural disasters, said Albert Ashwood, director, Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (ODEM). "Once again, Oklahomas emergency managers worked around the clock doing what they do best - supporting response and recovery efforts by coordinating the delivery of vital resources," said Ashwood.

On Monday, Feb. 23, emergency managers will take their message of disaster preparedness to the State Capitol. The Oklahoma Emergency Management Association is hosting the event designed to deliver discussion on the response, recovery, preparedness and mitigation efforts of emergency managers. A Legislative Reception will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. in the fourth floor Rotunda.

Emergency managers exist at the federal level through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), at the state level through ODEM and at the local level representing municipalities and counties. Many of todays emergency managers are yesterdays civil defense workers. Emergency managers support response and recovery efforts during disaster times by working behind the scenes to coordinate the identification, deployment and use of needed resources by police, fire and other emergency responders.

In the last few years alone, emergency managers helped Oklahomans during tornadoes, ice storms, wildfires, floods, hazardous materials incidents, a school shooting, drought conditions, and the I-40 bridge collapse. They helped get drinking water, food and shelter to those who had none, additional law enforcement and fire suppression where the flames threatened lives and homes, and hay to livestock where the ground was left barren.

Emergency managers also work year round to prevent and decrease the effects of disasters through mitigation projects like safe room rebate programs, repetitive flood buy-out programs, disaster exercises and training activities.

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