3 disaster declarations in 20 years: Washington County plans FEMA training

Background image: Water levels rise as overflow system gets first test at Santa Clara retaining dike, Santa Clara, Utah, September 9, 2014 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – The Washington County Commission announced Tuesday it has signed a letter of agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency that will allow the county to get specialized disaster training.

Washington County has had three presidentially declared disasters in the past 20 years, County Administrator Dean Cox said.

“We lead the state of Utah in that category, which is probably nothing to brag about,” Cox said.

The first disaster was in 1989 when the Quail Lake dike failed, sending more than 25,000 acre-feet of water into the Virgin River, damaging bridges, roads, homes, apartments and other property.

Widespread flooding in 2005 and 2010 also merited a presidential declaration, Cox said, allowing the county to get funding to help reinforce the river channels. The rocks that now line parts of the Santa Clara and Virgin rivers have prevented more damage, he said.

The FEMA training will involve 60 people from across the county who will get to work together in a real-life scenario that is statistically likely to happen in Washington County, Cox said. A FEMA representative will visit in August, and after looking at past and potential emergencies, the representative will craft a custom four-day training course.

“It’s a phenomenal opportunity,” Cox said. “This is a great opportunity for us to work and exercise together and better our community effort and response in the face of an emergency.”

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2 Comments

  • anybody home July 8, 2015 at 9:43 am

    with help like this from the government, how about calling off the anti-government rants around southern Utah for a while.

    • fun bag July 8, 2015 at 11:23 pm

      only if obama promises not to take all the guns!

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