Coolidge awarded disaster prevention grant - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Coolidge awarded disaster prevention grant

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By Sarah Baldwin - bio | email

June 27, 2008

COOLIDGE, GA (WALB) -   A new Homeland Security Bill just passed the House Appropriations Committee in which Congressman Sanford Bishop secured $80,000 for the city of Coolidge.  The money will help Coolidge make their community more prepared for disasters.

People who live in the small city of Coolidge say its a nice place to live, but they worry if their community is really prepared if disaster strikes.  "A lot of people could probably get destroyed or something in a bad storm," said Willie Smith, who has lived in Coolidge for 15 years.

That fear could be eased by $80,000 earmarked for pre-disaster mitigation, like building a new red cross shelter.  "It makes you feel good. We'll have someplace to go when it gets to be bad weather," said Smith.

Kristin Riggs, Executive Director for the Wiregrass Chapter of the Red Cross, says if they designate it as a "risk shelter" its great news, not just for Coolidge, but for the whole region.   "What a risk shelter is, is a shelter where people can go when a hurricane is coming. Right now we don't have any of those, we only have host shelters and a host shelter is for after the event," explained Riggs.  Right now there are no risk shelters in the Wiregrass Chapter's four-county jurisdiction.

The city also plans to buy new generators in case of power outages during storms.  Riggs said, "If we don't have power in a shelter, there's no point in being there. Now its good to have shelter over your head, but if you can't see anything there's a risk for crime rate to increase, and all kinds of stuff so its great to have generators."

Along with the new preparedness comes a feeling of security.  "You can't compare it to anything else.  It's a must have in my book," commented Mahlon Bozeman.  Some of the money will also be put toward a disaster warning system for the city.

The funding for Coolidge is part of a bill that gives $39.9 billion to the Department of Homeland Security and related agencies including FEMA.

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