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Are we prepared for disasters?

By Lisa Brody
News Editor
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Local municipalities have been given evacuation plans in the event of severe weather or major event, where they could shelter large crowds, Rochester Fire Chief John Cieslik said. "There are things in the plan, but they're confidential. But some places, like if there were a tornado or severe thunderstorm, we would evacuate people to Rochester City Hall because it has a lower level, as well as to the lower level of our parking structures because they're concrete."

David Hendrickson, Bloomfield Hills City Manager, noted that Cranbrook Education Community, which is within the city's boundaries, has a collaborative arrangement with the city. "They let us train on their grounds," he said of the city's public safety department, which does mock exercises with Bloomfield Township and Troy. In return, "If we had to move a lot of people f rom Cranbrook, we have an agreement with Oakland Community College in Auburn Hills to use Cranbrook busses to take students to the OCC parking lot and have parents pick them up there."

He said Cranbrook uses a phone app to notify parents in the event of an emergency. If there were a large scale power outage or cell tower outage, his officers have 60 two-way radios that allow them to communicate.

Birmingham would move large groups of the population to its schools, notably the two high schools, city manager Joe Valentine said.

Regionally, Oakland County works with its neighboring districts in the event of major events. "For example, Fermi II in Monroe, we are listed because we're in the 50-mile emergency planning zone," Hardesty said. "If there were some kind of radiation issue, we would likely have people shelter in place, and if you had a garden, you'd have to have your garden checked out. People within the the 10-mile radius would need much more detailed plans, preparations, and knowledge of what to do."

If there were a nuclear detonation in the metro Detroit area, or the release of a dirty bomb, or radiological dispersal device that combines radioactive materials with conventional explosives, the response would be different but not revealed now due to the sensitive nature of the plans.

"Our job is to do a lot of 'what if's' and plan first to prevent, second to respond, and third, to recover from," Hardesty responded.

Rochester Hills' Cooke echoed that sentiment. "You can do your best to prevent unfortunate circumstances from happening, but they're going to happen," he noted. "The best that you can do is plan for them and prepare."

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