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Hurricane Ian raises reminders about regional emergency management


Hurricane Ian is set to make it to land Wednesday in Florida.

Although Mid-Missouri doesn't experience hurricanes, there are natural disasters that leave lasting impacts on residents. The Great Flood of 1993, the 2011 Joplin tornado and the 2019 Jefferson City tornado are a few that have left a great impact on Missourians and how they may think about disaster procedures.

The Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) is an organization that works closely with organizations like the Red Cross, local and state police, fire departments and the federal government when a natural disaster occurs.

"There has been great strides in education and training regarding emergency management," SEMA spokesman Mike O'Connell said. "The last few decades our communication and ability to respond and coordinate has increased. The state emergency operation center is where the leaders of these groups can come together and figure out needs and how to meet them."

Southern Illinois University program site coordinator Lindsay Laycoax has more than 30 years of experience in the fire service. He leads and teaches classes on emergency management.

According to Laycoax, programs like the one he teaches are available around the country, offering students the ability to be introduced to emergency services like police and fire and excel in management positions.

"This isn't necessarily a program to be a firefighter or police officer," Laycoax said. "This program is more designed to address disaster management."

Laycoax stressed the importance of knowing what to do correctly during an emergency, including situations that may not being at the actual scene of the disaster.

"When you deal with FEMA, and state agencies, that paperwork has to be done and done right," Laycoax said. "You have to have paperwork done and done right in order to be reimbursed. Not only are you required to be ready to do all this paperwork, you also need to have the ability to plan and execute issues in your community. "

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Hurricane Ian

Ethan Heinz


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