With its quarterly meeting on Wednesday, the Comanche County Local Emergency Planning Committee homed in on its role in helping locals be aware and prepared in the worst-case scenario.
The meeting, its third since its inaugural in June 2022, allowed Comanche County/Lawton Emergency Director Clint Langford to make an announcement that has meaning.
“This will be the first year the committee will receive money,” he said.
The money, a $1,000 grant from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ), has previously gone to the emergency management office until the committee’s formation, Langford said.
The committee is part of the State Statute in the Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act of 1986, said Matthew Wormus from ODEQ.
“It’s to develop ways to keep you safer from the hazardous materials,” he said.
The CCLEPC is comprised from a range of people from the Comanche County community. Its membership for a meeting quorum must have a majority of at least one representative in each category: city elected officials, Lawton police and fire, emergency medical service, public health, hospital, owner/operator of a facility with hazardous materials, county elected official, county sheriff’s office, county volunteer fire department, transportation personnel, broadcast and print media, community group and emergency management.
Its mission, according to the by-laws, is to develop a training and testing for hazardous substances emergency response for the county; develop procedures for regulated facilities to provide notifications; develop procedures to receive and process public information requests; and implement any further related activities required by the federal government or the Oklahoma Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Commission (OHMER).
Wormus said the main goal for the CCLEPC is to develop a response plan and review it annually, and provide information and opportunity for the community to know what hazards are out there.
Emergency Management Deputy Director Alana Pack offered an update regarding the status of the county’s hazard mitigation plan.
“We are actively in consolidation (of information) right now,” she said. “It should be published around the end of the month.”
Wormus said the ODEQ knows the importance in sending out $1,000 to these organizations as well as in making grants available.
“It’s a volunteer organization with little or no funding made up of community partners,” he said. “Every little bit helps.”
Among ideas to make the quarterly CCLEPC meetings more productive, Wormus suggested visiting and inspecting some of the facilities that fall under the Superfund statute. He said the state usually receives 50,000 reports annually from across the state for facilities that fall under the statute and it includes every sector of local business. It’s necessary that the community is informed and involved, he said.
Langford said his office has open positions for volunteers. All they need to do is contact Comanche County/Lawton Emergency Management and apply.
The next meeting of the CCLEPC is scheduled for 10 a.m. June 17 in the Comanche County/Lawton Emergency Services center in Building 900 at the Great Plains Technology Center, 4500 W. Lee.