Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper wants to change the county’s emergency plan to prepare for disasters with the county’s coal mines.“Everything will change post-Sago and post-Melville,” Carper said Wednesday at a meeting of the Kanawha-Putnam Emergency Planning Council. “Why isn’t there anything in our county plan for handling a mine disaster? The public will have no tolerance for us not being prepared.”The county’s emergency plan, which hasn’t been updated for several years, is being redrafted and will be completely rewritten by April, he said.In mine disasters, Carper said, county employees would identify the “peculiar needs” of the disaster, much like the county has done for fire and floods. A committee would work with people in the coal industry and state and federal regulators to make sure the plan is appropriate, and the county would ask for guidance from local emergency services, fire departments and other crews.
Carper also wants to reach out to other states that have mines and see their local plans, he said.Planning for mine disaster provisions in the county’s emergency plans will begin today, with interim protocol for Metro 911 ready by Friday, Carper said.After the entire plan is complete, a public meeting will be held, Carper said.Also, Carper discussed the proposed Metro Emergency Management Authority (MEMA), which was unveiled in November.In December, the director of Charleston’s Office of Emergency Services and Homeland Security and Kanawha County’s emergency services director each began serving as the other’s deputy director.Bill White retired as county emergency services director in November and Gary Morris, who was White’s assistant director for 20 years, is interim director.Even though a permanent replacement has not been hired for the county’s emergency director, Mark Wolford, the city’s emergency services director, has been working with Morris.“Things have to change over a period of time,” Carper said. “It’s better not to dictate, but to facilitate.”Overall, the county’s emergency plan fits well into MEMA, Carper said.“The county plan is all about coordinating and facilitating,” he said. “MEMA is all about taking those plans and making it happen.”