Two Johnson County employees have been deployed for up to two weeks to assist in recovery efforts in the aftermath of deadly tornadoes in Alabama.
Tom Erickson, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office, and Adam Crowe, assistant
director of community preparedness for Johnson County Emergency Management and Homeland Security, left for Clanton, Ala., on Mother’s Day. They were joined by Olathe’s Fire Department Captain Mike Hall.
The deployment to the federally-declared disaster region of Alabama was authorized under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) through the state of Kansas at the request of the Alabama State Emergency Operations Center located in Clanton. With travel time, they can anticipate being gone for up to 18 calendar days.
“It is important to support our fellow citizens and the national emergency management system we have developed in the United States by providing assistance, when we can, to other jurisdictions. The system is set up so that jurisdictions from outside the impacted area can help those requiring assistance in times of disasters,” Nick Crossley, director to Johnson County Emergency Management and Homeland Security, said.
As part of the EMAC agreement, local government employees participating in volunteer relief efforts to Alabama and other Southern states that were devastated by last week’s deadly tornadoes will continue to receive their salaries and benefits while they are deployed. EMAC is a mutual aid agreement and partnership that offers a way for states and local jurisdictions to send personnel, supplies, and equipment to help disaster relief efforts in other states and jurisdictions.
The agreement allows for cities, counties, and state agencies/departments sending assistance to be financially reimbursed by the federal government for their upfront costs and labor expenses. The pact also protects employee volunteers with insurance coverage while serving in the disaster region.
The last time Johnson County employee volunteers were deployed to another state through EMAC occurred in 2005 in recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina when 62 employee volunteers from 15 departments were deployed to provide disaster relief over a four-month period. Most of the volunteers were sent to Mississippi. Almost half of the employee volunteers (28 of the total) were from the Sheriff’s Office. Johnson County government employees provided 868 work days to disaster relief in Mississippi at that time.
In 2007, Johnson County also provided disaster recovery by deploying employee volunteers and equipment to Kiowa County and Greensburg, Kan., in May following a massive tornado that leveled the community. Employees also were deployed later that same year to provide assistance to some of the 19 Kansas counties declared disaster regions because of severe flooding.