(02/10/14) - Several agencies involved in helping people recover from two
winter storms in Genesee County say will they will do a better job.
Monday, they admitted they didn't do a very good job and vow to make improvements in the future.
Genesee County leaders took a lot of flak for they way they handled the December ice storm and January massive snowfall. They held a meeting Monday to analyze where they went wrong.
Even during the past few days, buses and cars have been getting stuck on Flint and Genesee County roads.
The Dec. 21 ice storm left 80,000 Consumers Energy customers without power. On Jan. 6, the area was socked with 17 inches of snow. Many are finding fault with how county leaders dealt with those emergencies.
A town hall meeting was called on Jan. 30 and a panel of political and human services agencies were brought in to discuss what went wrong.
These community leaders know many people were left without heat and lights and had no idea where to go for help during the ice storm and hundreds were trapped at home, unable to get to urgent medical appointments because of unplowed streets after the January storm.
As a result of that town hall meeting, a follow up meeting was held Monday morning in the county administration building to hash out ways of improving responses in future disasters.
"Things were being done, but not in an organized manner," said Brenda Clack, Genesee County commissioner.
Many think the county should have declared a state of emergency.
"I think there should have been (a state of emergency) declared, but it wasn't, so these folks came together and tried to act without one. I think it does help with a focal point and communication," said St. Sen. Jim Ananich, (D) Flint.
The panel agreed more needs to be done during disasters to find shelter for those without heat and find better ways to communicate urgent information.
"What I found out is we have a monumental task in making sure that all of the sources, resources and services are provided for the people in a timely manner," Clack said. "We'll come together again with major recommendations to ease this problem in the county."
Those in the room, like the Red Cross and Genesee County Emergency Preparedness, think the winter storms were a learning experience.
"Someone mentioned we know what the puzzle pieces are, we just got to put them together. So that's what we're trying to do," Ananich said. "This meeting is the start of that. We're trying to put experts in the room and say, if that happens again, what's the protocol going forward?
Another meeting of those agencies is planned for Feb. 24.
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