The Alexandria City Council voted unanimously to reconstitute the city’s Citizen Corps Council. The action came at this week’s legislative meeting.
“We just need to find a way to get citizens more involved in emergency preparedness,” said Councilman Ludwig Gaines.
Gaines and Councilman Rob Krupicka began thinking about strategies for involving citizens in emergency preparedness after Hurricane Isabel. “We are very fortunate that we have such an involved and educated citizenry here in the city and we need to look at ways of involving them in all aspects of emergency preparedness,” Krupicka said.
There is a group of citizens who are involved in at least one aspect of emergency preparedness. The Local Emergency Planning Committee has been serving as the Citizen Corps Council to meet the federal grant requirements for the Community Emergency Response Team program.
“This group is limited to handling hazardous material spills and disasters so doesn’t really deal with other types of emergencies,” Gaines said. “Instead of expanding their responsibilities, we decided to reconstitute the Citizen Corps Council as a separate entity.”
THE NEW GROUP will be modeled after a similar Council in Arlington. It will be comprised of 11 citizen members who will be appointed by the city manager. Two members of City Council will serve as co-chairs. In addition, there will be a representative from the Commission on Persons with Disabilities; a representative from the Commission on Aging; one representative from the Alexandria Chapter of the American Red Cross; two representatives from the Alexandria Federation of Civic Associations, one from the east end of the city and another from the west end; one representative from the Alexandria Interfaith Association; one from the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce; one from the Alexandria City Public school system and one representative from the Alexandria Emergency Medical Services Council.
The Citizen Corps Council will reach out to the community to obtain input on the city’s over-all disaster response. Tasks could include public emergency communication and education programs; identifying community groups, agencies and volunteers to participate in disaster relief efforts and management of community resources for disasters.
“This group could take a look at policies such as whether to hand out sandbags during floods,” Gaines said.
The group will exist, initially for one year. At the end of that year, they will submit a report to Council on their activities. “At the end of that time, they may recommend expanding the Council, disbanding it or anything in between,” Krupicka said.