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Preparing for disaster in eastern Idaho

Published On: May 21 2013 07:52:06 PM CDT   Updated On: May 21 2013 07:55:37 PM CDT

Preparing for disaster in eastern Idaho


Seeing the tornado destruction in Moore, Okla., we can't help but think, "How prepared is eastern Idaho if disaster should strike?"

"I feel the pressure of trying to make sure everything is going to go OK or be OK," said Tom Lenderink, director of emergency management for Bonneville County.

Lenderink spends his days in the basement of the county administration building, making sure the county is ready for a disaster.

The emergency management office is packed with volumes of plans -- past and present -- to handle just about any natural or man-made disaster, including terrorism, flooding and severe winter weather.

Lenderink has a tornado plan, though he said a tornado would be unlikely in the area.

"(Tornadoes) are a very rare event," Lenderink said. "But to say it would never happen would be ridiculous."

If or when something happens, emergency crews, government leaders, law enforcement, finance, public works and social workers will gather in a large briefing room.

"To help coordinate all those requests for resources and disseminate all those resources -- where to put them, where they go, when there's not enough, who gets priority -- those kind of decisions are going to be made in (the room)," Lenderink said.

While the team is ready to help in a disaster scenario, it might not be able to help in the most timely fashion unless someone is critically hurt. That's why Lenderink said families need to be ready to stay self-sufficient for at least three days.

He said to visit to learn how to prepare a 72-hour survival kit and come up with an emergency plan.

"Folks in this area -- Bonneville County, southeastern Idaho -- have already done a great job being prepared," Lenderink said.