Arcadia plans for the worst, hopes for the best

ARCADIA -- You plan and plan, and then plan again, and hope your hard work never gets called into action. A table top exercise Tuesday evening had area wide emergency responders, firemen, EMTs, law enforcement and emergency managers pretend that a devastating tornado hit the community of Arcadia during a school program. The plan was plausible. Tornados have struck the community before. A tornado in 1953 landed nearby killing 11 people. In 1959 a tornado damaged the school and trees, and in 1974, on a peaceful spring day, a tornado crossed the Middle Loup River severing power lines and destroying 40 homes and businesses. According to information provided, the tornado index for the state of Nebraska is 205.87. The higher the index, the greater the chance of a future event. Arcadia’s index is 215.86. Tuesday’s incident pretended the tornado cut a swathe through town dividing the community in half. at there were people missing and that not everyone survived the storm.It asked the tough questions. “How many fatalities would it take to overwhelm your resources? What would you do if Highway 70 were closed due to debris? Who would make that call? When would you bring in mutual aid? How would you organize? Who would be in charge? Who would have the say-so for the community to be able to spend money? How would you handle the gawkers? How would you care for your people?Alma Beland and Region 26 served as the facilitator and planning organization for the evening.The purpose was to identify what is already in place for emergency response and then to identify what plans need to be made. It focused on coordination and decision making. The most important part of the evening Beland suggested is the understanding that there were no right or wrong answers, there were no hidden agendas or trick questions, that the most important element was the discussion, and the process.