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Environmentalists, homeowners question state's disaster prep

Delaware Public Media

Officials from Delaware’s Emergency Management Agency have praised the state’s level of preparedness in the event of a major storm like Hurricane Harvey or Irma, but some environmental and homeowner groups worry the state wouldn’t be ready for a hurricane or large storm event.

After Hurricane Harvey made landfall two weeks ago, DEMA director AJ Schall said he believes the state’s plans are sound, but such a storm would push them to the limit.

In the event of a major storm, DEMA says it would work to spread the word and have Gov. John Carney (D) sign an order asking people to evacuate.

But Stephanie Herron, the  volunteer and outreach coordinator for the Delaware Sierra Club, says she’s concerned about how quickly DEMA and city governments would be able to inform residents and how quickly residents could prepare or recover.

“We want to work with DEMA, we want to work with the [Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control] to make sure we are, one: as prepared as possible and that our plan is as adequate as it could possibly be, and two: that it is getting out to the community, and that people know it, understand it and feel comfortable with it,” Herron said.

Marie Reed, the president for the Southbridge Civic Association south of Wilmington, says her community has seen a lot of flooding in the past, even when a hurricane has not been present. She recalled that they’ve been evacuated three times in recent years.

But each time they’ve been evacuated, Reed said she felt they weren’t notified properly or far enough in advance.

“We got the bullhorn notice that we had to evacuate, and a school bus came and picked up people and took them to a high school out in New Castle,” Reed said. “My mother and I went to one of my brother’s house to stay, because we had a place to go. But it’s very upsetting for the community. People have children, they have seniors…”

Hurricane Irma is not expected to have a major impact on Delaware, but the National Weather Service says after it makes landfall in Florida this weekend, the state could see at least half an inch of rain from Tuesday to Wednesday.

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