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County considering collaboration for disasters

Freeborn County could have additional tools in the future to combat disasters.

Freeborn County Board of Commissioners Chairman Chris Shoff presented the option Tuesday at a board meeting.

Under the program — a collaboration between 501(c) (3) organization Institute for Building Technology and Safety and the National Association of Counties — counties would have access to disaster planning, disaster plan activation, initial disaster response, post-disaster phase and other tools it uses to help residents in the wake of disasters.

Washington, D.C.-based disaster response teams would be expected to:

• Understand political challenges and respond with effective communication plans.

• Recognize physical challenges of crippled infrastructure and mass debris.

• Navigate post-disaster regulatory compliance demands.

• Assess damage and engage the private sector, restore homes and other infrastructure by providing estimation support, environmental risk management, contractor bid development, code enforcement and construction management.

• Develop architectural and engineering specifications to guide reconstruction and rehabilitation work.

• Value the importance of maintaining community character.

• Effectively implement the preservation and restoration of treasured historical assets.

• Understand benefit-management challenges of distributing relief funds to citizens.

The plan was discussed at the meeting after the county became aware that National Association of County members can access the program. Community outreach and counseling, debris removal, environmental risk management and resilience planning are also offered.

The county would not be expected to spend any money for the program unless services are used. Though the county receives help from the Federal Emergency Management Administration for disasters, Shoff said the county has sometimes not received full funding for such work.

“This is an option for us,” Shoff said.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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