Officials duck, cover and hold

Port of South Whidbey Commissioner Curt Gordon participates in a Drop

To better prepare for the worst, governments in Island County are considering the creation of an Emergency Management Council.

The issue was discussed during the Council of Government’s monthly meeting in Coupeville on the morning of Wednesday, April 25. The proposal is to form the emergency group, which would act in an advisory capacity, to improve overall disaster preparedness across the county.

Eric Brooks, deputy director of Island County Emergency Management, is leading the proposal and spoke about the function and benefits of such a council during the meeting.

“Mainly, it’s to bring all the agencies on the island together,” Brooks said.

“It’s a sounding board for emergency management issues,” he added.

He rattled off a long list of public agencies that would be involved, ranging from fire districts, police and county agencies to ports, Washington State Ferries and citizen groups.

Brooks said the potential benefits of such a council would be numerous. Aside from improved communications and bringing everyone’s individual disaster or emergency plans together, county residents could count on enhanced and shared resources, efficient utilization of grant opportunities and consolidation and shared training.

The proposal, which followed presentations from several local governments  about their own emergency plans, saw widespread support though several suggestions were offered.

“I love the idea,” Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard said.

However, she said involving so many groups in one council may be cumbersome and difficult to organize. Someone else suggested limiting the council’s membership but utilizing other voices in one or more subcommittees.

In a later interview, Brooks said he doesn’t know how long it will take to get the council and subcommittees going but that he will start the process immediately. He said he will provide the Council of Government with periodic updates on his progress.