Inland states watch path

As Katrina continues its advance into the U.S., states along its path are ready to respond.

BY HEATHER MOYER | BALTIMORE | August 30, 2005



"We're all aware of the risk coming our way."

—John Sims


As Katrina continues its advance into the U.S., states along its path are ready for the potential flooding and tornadoes.

Now a Tropical Depression, Katrina moved into Tennessee early Tuesday, but it's outer cloud bands stretched up through Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Disaster responders are preparing as best they can.

"We're expecting more heavy rains and strong winds, but it's hard to determine what exactly will happen," said Joe Mosley, staff associate for program ministries for the Memphis Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

He said they definitely expect flooding along the Mississippi River. To be ready, Mosley said four disaster relief trailers are strategically located across the state. All are fully equipped with generators, cleaning supplies and tools to help with debris removal. Volunteer work crews are also standing by. "We also sent out a letter to the district superintendents and those in the disaster relief community to give them some basic info on how to prepare for this."

Yet the waiting is the hardest part, he added. Mosley said they cannot do much else until the worst weather moves through.

For Lutheran Disaster Response in Tennessee (LDRTN), there is anxiety in waiting as well. John Sims, coordinator for LDRTN, said after just finishing up Hurricane Ivan recovery in eastern Tennessee's Rhea County, nerves are frazzled as Katrina looms. "I'm quite sure those people are nervous," said Sims. "We're just all on high alert and keeping watch. We're all aware of the risk coming our way."

LDRTN also has a fully equipped disaster trailer ready to be dispatched, and both Sims and Mosley said their trailers are ready to help out the recovery in Mississippi and Alabama if need be.

Disaster responders in Kentucky are familiar with the Gulf coast hurricane tracks and what they can do. "Because of the traditional paths of hurricanes through the Gulf then coming through Kentucky, we do make sure we strategically have resources in place to meet needs," said George Betz, president of the Kentucky chapter of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (KYVOAD). "For instance, when (Hurricane) Dennis happened, the hurricane came over western Kentucky and stalled. That's not uncommon for us." He said the same happened last year when the remnants from Hurricane Ivan drenched eastern Kentucky.

KYVOAD member agencies will hold a conference call Tuesday morning to discuss the impending storm and each organization's available resources and capacity. Because many of the member agencies have national counterparts that draw upon the resources, Betz explained, discussing just what is available to the state is crucial to the response and recovery process.

"We just have to make sure we support our organizations nationally and keep attention for our area also."

For the members of Indiana's state VOAD, the situation is just about the same. "Our VOAD is on alert," said Kevin Cox, president of INVOAD. "One of the concerns for us is not so much the rain, but the tornadoes."

Cox said INVOAD is closely collaborating with the state Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to make sure the public is prepared. He added that southern Indiana is already home to three strong long-term recovery committees that can quickly be reactivated if needed, and that flood cleanup supplies are also ready should that be the issue with Katrina. "We're doing a much better job in Indiana being prepared and collaborating, which speaks highly of the involved agencies."

INVOAD and the state DHS is also keeping the public informed on how they can assist people in harder hit states. INVOAD is already in touch with theVOAD in Alabama's Mobile County and with VOADs in Mississippi, many of which have already requested direct assistance. "We're prepared to reach out to other states as they need us."


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