Local EMA Directors Attend River Emergency Training in Pittsburgh
Emergency responders spend a lot of their time thinking about how to react in a scary situation. If locks and dams couldn't hold water as designed, county emergency management personnel have to consider what might happen.
"The actual pool of the river would be compromised. And then navigation would be lost," said Ohio County Emergency Management Director, Lou Vargo. Both Vargo, and Ohio County Emergency Management Director Tom Hart took place in an exercise in Pittsburgh, designed to see how agencies across the region would respond to a catastrophe of this kind.
"One of the things that we did find out was that the potential downstream effects it would have on the Ohio Valley, particularly between the New Cumberland - Pike Island into Hannibal," Hart said.
Coping with an emergency of this kind requires a different mindset for everyone. "This would not be a several hour event. This would go on days, weeks, and maybe into months, without navigation on the waterways. So how would that affect water sources, and commerce throughout the Valley?" Vargo asked.
While a catastrophe of this magnitude may seem far-fetched, the problem solving and training helps in managing smaller emergencies, like the odd flood.
"When you have a training or exercise, if everything goes exactly the way you planned it, then that means there's a failure point somewhere. So you need to try to find those weak areas, you need to try to find those areas of improvement," Hart said.
Both EMA Directors said one reason this type of catastrophe may happen would be due to barges getting loose on the river.