Jackson County continues to play a leading role in Missouri becoming a model for other states seeking to improve their emergency preparedness efforts.
"We have the finest disaster preparedness framework in the country," Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced during a recent disaster response workshop at the Crown Pointe Church in Lee's Summit.
The day-long event May 3 focused on the Governor's Faith-Based Organization Disaster Initiative (FBODI), which Nixon launched in 2009. The program focuses on churches and other faith-based organizations utilizing their facilities as shelters in the aftermath of a disaster.
Nixon appointed Jackson County Emergency Preparedness Director Mike Curry to co-chair the initial round of FBODI workshops in September 2009.
'Setting The Gold Standard'
With more than 35 different organizations, including the American Red Cross and Salvation Army participating, Jackson County is "setting the gold standard in the state for faith-based sheltering," Curry stated.
Nixon decided to develop a formal program to involve faith-based groups in emergency preparedness when he observed how crucial churches were in providing assistance after a major ice storm hit southeast Missouri in early 2009 -- just weeks after he became Governor. That summer he introduced the FBODI program.
During the May 3 workshop, Nixon thanked the Greater Kansas City area and Jackson County specifically for helping implement the initiative. He also pointed out that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has taken notice of how FBODI can aid in all three phases following a disaster: the immediate response, rebuilding and long-term recovery.
"They know what we're doing is unique and special," Nixon said.
County Executive Mike Sanders vowed that Jackson County would continue supporting the initiative. "None of us wants a disaster to strike, but we all have to be ready for it," he said.
The Missouri Department of Public Safety held several FBODI workshops across the state in early May, and Curry noted that the one in Lee's Summit had the largest turnout, with approximately 300 people attending, including local mayors and other emergency preparedness professionals.
Topics covered during the workshops included organizing volunteers, preparing a facility for use as a shelter, managing mass donations and responding to the emotional as well as physical upheaval that a disaster causes.