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By Jamie Baker-Nantz

Rick Willoby, Grant County’s director of Emergency Management, has a plan and when a tornado hit Grant County March 2, the plan went into action.

But he wonders how many Grant County residents have a plan in case of a disaster.

“You can’t wait until a siren blows to get a plan,” Willoby said. “This time of year is just the start of severe storm weather and you’ve got to know where you’re going to go and how you can check in with others after it’s over.”

He urged residents to prepare a “go bag” with at least a flashlight and extra batteries, a weather radio, bottles of water, an extra change of clothing, copies of identification and critical information, including prescriptions and family contacts.

Willoby said there’s no excuse for people not knowing bad weather is approaching.

Free weather sirens are available to Grant County residents who don’t have them.

The Grant County Fiscal Court used a grant to purchase the radioes. They can be picked up at the Grant County Courthouse in Williamstown or at the counties’ five fire departments.

Grant County also has a weather alert calling system. Landlines are automatically part of the system. Those wishing to sign up for the free service to have the alert sent to their cell phone should call Vanessa Rose at 859-823-2345.

As far as the county being prepared to deal with disaster, Willoby said the emergency response was “smooth.”

Willoby was in contact with the Kentucky State Police, the Grant County School System, the Grant County Chapter of the American Red Cross and the regional office in Cincinnati. He said there was cooperation from other counties who offered building inspecting assistance and from Duke Energy and Owen Electric.

“Things went well,” Willoby said. “It was a tight operation.”

Willoby said the cooperation between agencies is what caused the operation to go smoothly.

“It helped that we only had one location to deal with,” he said. “If there had been more than one, it might have stretched our resources.”

Willoby said the command center was able to be shut down so quickly because of the organized effort.

“We are way ahead of other people in the state,” he said.

Grant County’s EMA has worked large-scale disasters before, including a major snow storm in 1994 and the devastating flood in Falmouth in 1997.

“We were ready to be operational longer but because it went so well we didn’t need to,” he said.