Beginning this year, cities and towns throughout Oklahoma will be required to develop emergency evacuation plans. State Sen. Kenneth Corn is author of Senate Bill 1709. Corn says the legislation, which was signed into law by Governor Brad Henry on Friday, will better protect Oklahoma citizens in the face of a large-scale disaster.
“We all saw what happened following Hurricane Katrina. Many of those who died would probably still be alive if there had been better emergency planning before the disaster hit,” said Corn, D-Poteau. “The purpose of this legislation is to help prevent our communities from repeating those fatal mistakes.”
While the state already requires some entities, such as nursing homes to have an evacuation plan, there have been reports that some of those plans are inadequate to ensure the health and safety of residents.
“Many have a plan to get their patients out of those facilities, but they haven’t worked out where they’ll take them beyond that,” Corn said. “And in many cases, the local emergency management teams don’t have any information about those plans. By requiring all incorporated jurisdictions to fully develop emergency evacuation plans, we’ll have better communication and coordination, and that’s going to save lives.”
The new law takes effect on November 1, 2006.