Kansas City, Mo. -- The city of Beatrice this week formally becomes the first Nebraska community to join Project Impact, a disaster-resistance initiative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency that aims to change the way America deals with disasters.
A signing ceremony to officially welcome Beatrice into the program will be held at 5:00 p.m. Friday, January 22 at the Beatrice Public Library, 100 N. 16th Street. Governor Mike Johanns, Congressman Doug Bereuter and FEMA Associate Mitigation Director Michael Armstrong will be among the governmental and community partners present for ceremony.
Project Impact is a national FEMA initiative that encourages communities to take steps that will lessen the impact of a disaster before it strikes. These steps can include actions such as identifying back-up power sources, improving weather warning systems, developing contingency plans that will keep businesses up and running, and helping citizens with their own disaster preparedness.
In Beatrice, some of the disaster-resistant measures being taken include building a storm shelter at a mobile home park, relocating a power substation out of the floodway, developing a disaster resource center for the community at large and purchasing early-warning weather equipment.
"Beatrice has seen its share of disasters and through this partnership among governmental entities, businesses and private citizens, we believe that the impact of future disasters can and will be reduced," Armstrong said. "The City already has taken great steps to move toward becoming more disaster-resistant and now this momentum can continue."
Beatrice will receive technical and financial support from FEMA and the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) as well as other public and private partners. The local partnership among government agencies, the business community and individual citizens will provide funding, in-kind services, technical support and labor to undertake actions needed to reduce the community's risks and to encourage long-term disaster-resistant community activities.
FEMA Region VII Director John A. Miller noted that FEMA has worked with Beatrice in the past to help the community recover from devastating floods and tornadoes.
"Project Impact provides a great opportunity to keep the devastation of years past from being as damaging in the future," Miller said. "For a city with a history of countless tornadoes and more than 60 flooding events, this can be a real benefit."
The ceremony will be preceded by other events, beginning with a 3 p.m. gathering at the Board of Public Works Service Center, 500 N. Commerce, followed by a bus tour of past, present and future disaster-resistance projects, and then the dedication of a Disaster Resource Center at the Beatrice Library.
Since June 1998, FEMA Region VII has been working with communities throughout its four-state region of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa to be a part of the Project Impact initiative. Those communities, along with Beatrice, are: Denison, Iowa, Cape Girardeau, Missouri and the City of Manhattan/Riley County, Kansas. Communities that will become part of the initiative during 1999 are: Superior, Nebraska; City of Des Moines, Iowa; St. Joseph, Missouri and Johnson County, Kansas.