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Audrain County’s LEPC learns how mapping helped to battle lagoon breach

Posted on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 6:03 pm

Alexis Gieseker talks about the mapping program used to help officials make decisions in fighting the breach at the Vandalia Lagoon.

Alexis Gieseker talks about the mapping program used to help officials make decisions in fighting the breach at the Vandalia Lagoon.

Mapping from the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) was used to help Audrain County officials make plans in late June to fix a lagoon breach. Details of this mapping were discussed in last Thursday’s Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) meeting held inside the Audrain County Courthouse.
Alexis Gieseker, a SEMA Geographic Information Systems Specialist, who also lives in Mexico, made a presentation to the LEPC that included details on the Vandalia Lagoon, the Joplin tornado, and more.
With the Vandalia Lagoon, she showed how the map told officials if the breach was going to go up or down stream.
“That was pretty important in our response,” said Audrain County Emergency Management Director Steve Shaw, who noted that the lagoon is 65 million gallons of untreated wastewater. “We were anticipating a catastrophic breach by the end of the day if we didn’t do something about it.”
Shaw was able to see that there were only three residential homes the breach could hit.
This immediately lowered the priority from life safety to property protection.
“It’s a really great pro-gram,” Shaw added.
Ron Schott, General Manager/Editor for The Vandalia Leader, followed by talking on how the media has a multimedia platform to get emergency information to residents quickly.
Schott shared how his newspaper has between 16,000-20,000 unique visitors on its website, which are different electronic devices. The Vandalia Leader also posts information on Facebook, Twitter, Textcaster (Text Alerts), and is accessible on mobile phones.
In the case of the Vandalia lagoon, officials asked The Vandalia Leader to promote the need for residents to limit bathing and flushing during a critical 12 hour period once the breach had started.
Schott told of how The Vandalia Leader got this critical word out to the community.
He noted that his newspaper is just one of the many forms of media in the area that also have similar multi-media platforms to get out an emergency message quickly.
During other parts of her presentation, Gieseker told those in attendance that when an emergency hits, the GIS data helps officials identify emergencies at their locations.
She said mapping has most recently been used for the flooding throughout the state.
Gieseker talked about how mapping was used for a variety of health concerns, search and rescue, as well as analyzing the effects of the Joplin tornado from a couple of years ago.
Those effects showed things like approximately 9,800 people would now no longer have a job due to the tornado, there were 12 cases of deep skin wounds, long-term care facilities in the region, etc.
One map for hospitals and dialysis centers hit by the tornado even reached Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.
She said that aerial imagery is available after a disaster.
Hazard Commodities
Flow Study
Discussion was once again held on whether the committee would want a Hazard Commodities Flow Study done for key traffic points in Audrain County.
This study is to track the amount of hazardous materials coming in the county during a 24-hour period.
Volunteers would be sought out to help in reducing the cost.
Randy Senor asked about possible video surveillance. Shaw said the information gathered proved the measure to be to expensive of a method to use.
Shaw identified eight spots in the county and some of those might be narrowed down further in discussions after the meeting.
Some discussion included getting certified weather spotters to help or possibly help from groups like Co-Ad or others.
The item was tabled until the October meeting.
Other Business
The next LEPC meeting will be held on Thursday, October 15.
There were two hazard incidents in the past quarter. One involved 1,000 lbs. of diammonium phosphate. The other involved the train derailment in the area of POET Biorefining in Laddonia that involved 750 gallons of distillates. Shaw said there could have been some bigger problems with the derailment if the cars were not empty due to the amount of rain the area had experienced.
The committee voted to go on with a two hour training program with Norfolk Southern for first responders.
The August 25 Champak exercise with SEOC was discussed. It will assist the county for EMPG and LEPC credit.
The CEPF 2015 application is being processed.
A Blended Ethanol Fuel Burn will be held at POET Biorefining in Laddonia on August 15.
The LEPC will be a part of the Disaster Expo on July 19 at the Audrain County 4-H Fairgrounds.
The LEPC trailer list was discussed. Some fresh C and D batteries need to be replaced. One item needed to be added on the list. The purchase of absorbent was also discussed.
EVAC Route posters were discussed and available for committee members to distribute and post in their own place.