Logan, USU say they're ready if a disaster strikes
By Leah L. Culler
In the event of a natural or man-made disaster, Logan and Utah State University officials say they are adequately prepared to deal with the results.
Lynn Wright, USU police department, says students may have to be relocated if a disaster were to occur on campus.
"It would depend on the disaster and the damage," he said.
Acting director of Housing and Food Services, Steve Jenson, said they would gladly bring students in and house them, if necessary. "We'll do everything we can."
Wright said the Taggart Student Center and the HPER building, if available and not affected by the disaster, could also house substantially large groups of people.
One concern, said Wright, would be how to feed all the people on campus for even a day or two.
But Wright says in the event of a disaster, he doesn't expect a great number of people to be on campus for an extended period of time.
"We might initially have to care for large groups, but they would probably want to go home as soon as possible," Wright said.
Wright also said the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an extensive disaster- preparedness plan and can house students at one of their stake centers near campus.
Jenson said the university's disaster plan utilizes resources from the city as well as the university.
Scott Douglas, emergency management director for Logan, said the city has its own disaster plan, but that it works closely with the university in disaster preparedness.
"The university does heighten everything," Douglas said. "It brings good and bad."
Douglas said he encourages every individual not to rely on the city or the university in an emergency.
"It becomes a major problem because services are overwhelmed so fast," he said. "My best advice is to have some plan so you can survive on your own for 72 hours until some help can be mustered."
The city is preparing so it can keep providing vital services in the event of an emergency. Each department in the city has its own standard operating procedure, from the library to billing to streets. Currently, each well site in Cache Valley has an alternate power source so the city could provide water to the citizens in case of an emergency.
"It might not be fun, but we could get water to people," Douglas said.
If the city were ever to encounter a disaster it could not handle alone, it would turn to the county. The county would then, if needed, go to the state seeking assistance.
Douglas said he works closely with Wright and the Community Emergency Response Team at USU. CERT members are trained in first aid, fire, hazardous wastes, rescue and other areas.
CERT, a national organization, was initially adopted in 1985 in California because of all the disasters there. The state of California realized there just aren't enough medical, fire and other services to help everyone in need in times of emergency. Wright said, as far as he knows, Utah is the only state that has adopted the CERT program statewide.
To certify in the program, an individual must spend 24 hours in training. All are taught following the student manual prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The university is required to send in a report to FEMA on the progress and certification of all of its CERT members.
"It's not just a fly-by-night program," Wright said.
USU currently has 177 experts trained, including many in Housing Services especially the maintenance crews, Wright said.
The Physical Plant on campus also has a CERT team consisting of 15 or 20 members.
Wright said CERT is trying to get together teams of five individuals for every building on campus. In a disaster, these teams would reach out to those immediately around them, helping them and then spreading to other buildings on campus.
Wright said he encourages individual departments and buildings to have their own annex to the overall emergency plan.