Leaving more than 40 dead in her wake, as well as more than a billion dollars in damage across 11 states, Hurricane Irene could hardly be called a false alarm. But, there are still those who were critical of preparedness efforts in areas where the storm’s damage was slight. Those criticisms are easier for emergency officials to take than the tragedy that may have occurred had no alarms gone out. Florence City Manager Bob Willoughby agrees.
Willoughby – “My philosophy would be that you err on the side of caution, that you try and prevent the loss of property or the loss of life if at all possible and if you’re going to make a mistake, make a mistake on the side of caution.”(click her to listen to quote)
He’s been on both sides of the coin. When Willoughby was city manager at Cascade Locks a major wildland fire closed down Interstate 84 and forced the evacuation of many parts of the community… something he found they were woefully unprepared for.
Willoughby – “It was not something that small cities spent a lot of time worrying about. But, I have ever since I was thrown into that situation and I was really pleased to find in Florence that it’s not just the city that prepares, but it’s the fire district, the ambulance district, the town of Dunes City.”(click here to listen to quote)
Willoughby says you enter any emergency situation hoping it’s going to turn into a “non-event” but with the understanding of what can happen and what has happened in other places.