KANSAS CITY, MO. -- Johnson County, Kan., this week formally celebrates becoming Kansas' most recent community to join Project Impact: Building Disaster Resistant Communities, an initiative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that aims to change the way America deals with disasters.
A signing ceremony to officially welcome Johnson County into the program will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 9, 2000, at the Johnson County Community College. FEMA Deputy Associate Director for Mitigation Margaret Lawless will be among the governmental and community partners present for the ceremony. Kansas Department of Commerce & Housing Deputy Secretary Fred Schwein will discuss his agency's lead role in the Project Impact initiative.
"Johnson County 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," Lawless said. "The community already has taken great steps to move toward becoming more disaster resistant and now this momentum can continue."
Project Impact: Building Disaster Resistant Communities is a national FEMA initiative that encourages communities to take steps to lessen the impact of a disaster before it strikes. These steps can include actions such as developing contingency plans that will keep businesses up and running, helping citizens with their own disaster preparedness including safe rooms, and buyout of property from the floodplain.
In Johnson County, some of the disaster-resistant measures being taken include:
- Working to retrofit all nonprofit childcare centers in the county to make them more resistant to natural disasters,
- Developing a program to work with and support small businesses in the county to become better prepared for disasters so that they can recover faster and thereby reduce their losses from natural and man-made disasters,
- Work with the commercial and residential construction industry to include disaster resistance in their construction plans, and
- Promote the creation of "Safe Rooms" in residential, commercial, institutional and government facilities.
Johnson County will receive technical and financial support from FEMA and the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing, as well as the Kansas Division of Emergency Management and 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 Johnson County in the past to help the community recover from devastating floods, as in the October 1998 flood and the Great Flood of 1993.
"Project Impact provides a great opportunity to keep the devastation of years past from being as damaging in the future," Miller said. "This can be particularly beneficial for a county with a history of flooding events and Johnson County's excellent track record of floodplain management."
The festivities will begin at 3 p.m. at Johnson County Community College with a bus tour of past, present and future disaster-resistance projects, including a sneak peak of the JCCC Childcare Center. Ceremonies and the signing of the agreement will begin at 5 p.m., followed by a community dinner celebration. Events will include comments by the Johnson County Project Impact Chair, Johnson County Commission Chair, and the Mission Hills Mayor.
Since June 1998, FEMA Region VII has been working with communities throughout its four-state region of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska to be a part of the Proje...