September 11, 2006
Officials see improvement but worry about funds
By Paul M.
Millions of dollars in federal funds have helped Tuscarawas
County become better prepared for a possible terrorist attack or
outbreak of disease.
officials said they still have a long way to go and are
concerned about the impact of shrinking federal dollars to
County has received $1.8 million in combined homeland security
and bioterrorism funding since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on
the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
has been spent to equip police, fire and other first responders
with protective suits and equipment, improve communications,
strengthen the public health system, develop response plans and
train for an emergency.
we’re more prepared than we were prior to the terrorism issues
in New York and Washington,” said Patty Levengood, director of
the Tuscarawas County Homeland Security and Emergency
completely prepared? I don’t think you can ever be completely
prepared,” she said.
purchases in Tuscarawas County include a hazardous response
truck that replaces vans used in the past by the county’s
hazardous response team.
also has spent money on a system that allows authorities to
make automated phone calls to areas that must be evacuated,
decontamination equipment for hospitals and computer software
for the coroner’s office.
terrorist attack remains a possibility, state health officials
are more focused on a major outbreak of disease.
Wagner, assistant chief for preparedness at the Ohio Department
of Health, said a flu pandemic is more likely than a terrorist
attack in Ohio.
But he said
“there’s always the potential of something like anthrax. We’ve
taken significant efforts to prepare for that.”
at all levels of government are concerned about the impact of
decreases in annual federal terrorism funding in the past couple
federal funding to Tuscarawas has dropped by 60 percent, to
$210,273 this year from $519,552 two years ago.
has helped tremendously,” Levengood said. “I hate to see it
going away because it has allowed us to get better prepared.”
But she added
that, as far as she can tell, the federal funds have been
divided up fairly.
each county has been able to apply the money they have received
for the needs they have in their community,” she said.
state health officials “have had to significantly prioritize
what it is we do, what it is we maintain and what (initiatives)
we move forward (on) at the point we are now.”
director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, said the
state and counties “have to find other funding sources to
maintain the basics of homeland security in Ohio.”
grants were always meant to be seed money to start programs,
not money that was going to last forever,” he said.
Sept. 11 attacks, states have received homeland security funds,
which they distribute to county emergency services agencies, and
bioterrorism funds passed out to county health departments.
said one of the most important things they have learned is that
localities and the state will have to work together to respond
to any future attack or disaster.
FEDERAL SPENDING ON SECURITY IN TUSCARAWAS COUNTY
Homeland security Bioterrorism
total (homeland security,bioterrorism) 1,818,565
(homeland security, bioterrorism) 659,010,000
Emergency Management Agency, Ohio Department of Health