KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The city of Cape Girardeau this week formally celebrates becoming the first Missouri community to join Project Impact, a disaster-resistance initiative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that aims to change the way America deals with disasters. A signing ceremony to officially welcome Cape Girardeau into the program will be held at 11:00 a.m. Friday, February 5 in Cape Girardeau at the Show Me Center, 1333 N. Sprigg. FEMA Director James Lee Witt, the originator of the Project Impact concept, will be among the governmental and community partners present for the ceremony.
Project Impact 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, and helping citizens with their own disaster preparedness including retrofit, and buyout of property from the floodplain.
In Cape Girardeau, some of the disaster-resistant measures being taken include installing seismic protection devices on the water storage tank and adding an emergency standby generator for the city's wastewater treatment plant.
"Cape Girardeau 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," Witt said. "The city already has taken great steps to move toward becoming more disaster resistant and now this momentum can continue."
Cape Girardeau will receive technical and financial support from FEMA and the Missouri Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) 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 Cape Girardeau 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 tornadoes, flooding events and frequent earthquakes, this can be a real benefit."
The festivities will begin at 7:30 a.m. with the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce First Friday coffee where Director Witt will make a few comments. Following will be a bus tour of past, present and future disaster-resistance projects, and then the opening of Lowe's disaster preparedness center where residents can get instruction and supplies to take disaster resistance actions in their own homes.
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 Project Impact initiative. Those communities, along with Cape Girardeau, are: Denison, Iowa, the City of Manhattan/Riley County, Kansas, and Beatrice, Nebraska. Communities that will become part of the initiative during 1999 are: Superior, Nebraska; Des Moines, Iowa; St. Joseph, Missouri, and Johnson County, Kansas. There are now 118 Project Impact communities across the nation.