CYNTHIANA, Ky. –
It’s not a matter of if a disaster will strike, it’s when will it strike. From devastating tornadoes in the western part of the state to catastrophic flooding in the eastern portions, Kentucky has seen its share of disasters over the last two years.
The newly formed Kentucky National Guard County Outreach Team has been meeting with officials of each of Kentucky’s 120 counties since January. The idea for the team came after the tornadoes ripped through western Kentucky in December of 2021, but the formation of the team got kicked into overdrive following the flooding of eastern Kentucky last year.
The team, consisting of Army Capt. Dan Bailey, 1st Sgt. Jason Rhodes, 2nd Lt. Demitri Ray and Sgt. 1st Class Wes Rogers, met with Harrison County officials May 2, 2023 at the Harrison County Emergency Operations Center in Cynthiana. The meeting’s intent was to outline how the Kentucky National Guard can assist in the event of an emergency.
“It’s a lot easier for us to make these relationships and get a feel for what the county may need in an emergency before the emergency happens than it is to try to react on the backside,” said Rhodes. “The goal is to get out and learn what gaps every county has so that we can plan at the very beginning of the emergency versus doing it as the emergency progresses.”
Through the process, Rhodes says that there were some surprises such as limited fire and law enforcement resources available in some counties.
“There were two counties we went to that had a sheriff, two deputies and a police chief, and that was it for the entire county,” said Rhodes. “And the number of counties that don’t have fulltime firefighters, they’re all dependent on volunteers.”
He was also surprised by the varying levels of preparedness. While some counties he expected to be well prepared were not while some were better prepared than he had expected.
In addition to informing officials of the Guard’s capabilities and resources it can offer, the meetings have also given the team the opportunity to identify any potential shortfalls and how the Guard can help supplement their assets.
Rhodes says that plans are to meet with officials from every county by the end of July.