Officials give OK to develop disaster plan
Clairton officials have given a green light for the Conscience Group Corp. to develop a Disaster Resilient Emergency Management Awareness system in the city.
A one-year contract that offers the organization free space in city hall was approved Tuesday in a 4-0 vote, with outgoing Councilman Terry Julian absent.
“(The contract) does spell out what the city's participation in it would be,” city manager Howard Bednar said. “It will be reviewed after that time frame.”
The Disaster Resilient Emergency Management Awareness concept, also known as as DREMA, has been the subject of controversy for the last few months as Conscience Group president David Adams sought support from officials, clergy and residents.
The idea resulted from President Obama's emphasis on disaster resilience as a national imperative based on a report by the National Academy of Sciences.
Adams' program works directly with residents of distressed socio-economic communities, he said, thereby improving the chances of those who may be forgotten in the case of a local or national disaster.
He hopes Clairton can be a pilot site for what could become a national initiative.
“This is a national public service model that we want to build here in Clairton,” he said at a Nov. 19 meeting. “We're here to help you, and it's clear that you understand we are not here to ask you for a thing. This is not a financially driven strategy.”
While the concept seems to be one that can benefit the city and other Mon Valley communities, residents are skeptical.
Adams and Marie Blair, a representative of Conscience Group Corp., emphasized the need for aid to predominantly black, low-income communities that have socio-economic stresses not common in other places. They cited drugs, violence and the dependency on government aid for food and other subsidies.
“Disaster preparedness has changed,” Blair said. “The government is saying we can't afford it anymore and that citizens are going to have to take care of themselves at some point. We have to make sure citizens are prepared before a disaster comes instead of reacting to it.”
Because a handful of residents and clergy were confused by Adams' proposal, a meeting last month was a chance to have their questions answered. Many were not satisfied with the presentation.
Art Thomas, a Clairton resident for more than 60 years, was the only resident to speak out on Tuesday. He was among those who attended last month's meeting.
“I felt like I was buying my first used car or something,” Thomas said. “(Adams) had me worried about the Mon River rising up and me standing on a rooftop waving a flag.”
Thomas said officials should have a network of communication in the event of any disaster, and that the city shouldn't have to rely on an outside organization.
Mayor Rich Lattanzi said he's happy to see the city moving forward despite the confusion.
“The model or the program itself was somewhat confusing in terms of the outlook and goals, but it's a great opportunity for the city of Clairton,” Lattanzi said. “At a minimum, we are going to educate the citizens of Clairton on how to be prepared and what resources they can use.”
If an organization offers to help Clairton residents, the mayor said, it's only fair to allow the group to try.
“I'm up in the air about it, but I'm not going to vote ‘no' now,” Councilman Richard L. Ford III said on Tuesday. “I want to see how it does in its first year.”
Deputy Mayor Kathy Tachoir echoed Ford's sentiment, noting she wants to give the project a chance to thrive.
Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1956, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Homestead Cemetery records will be preserved
- Hazelwood man shot in Homestead
- Mon Valley region prepares to celebrate Fourth of July in style
- Yankee Doodle Dandies still going strong
- Mon Valley motorists can expect more traffic woes
- McKeesport Area students navigate obstacles
- More Mon Valley communities add banners honoring veterans
- W. Elizabeth mulls cost of new garage
- Brewster picked for Smith’s seat on Senate Appropriations Committee
- Mon Yough leaders respond to appeals court ruling on gun ordinances
- McKeesport council approves sewage treatment plant lease