DeKalb Co. EMA Says Agency Handled Storms Well, But Working To Perfect Efficiency

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FORT PAYNE, Ala. (WHNT) -- DeKalb County EMA officials say the county's responders handled the severe weather it saw last week well, and the agency is working to perfect its efficiency even more so to be ready for the next threat.

DeKalb County EMA Director Anthony Clifton said the tornado that hit Fort Payne just before the weekend could have been a lot worse, but it was still devastating.

"This was a full-blown local disaster, but as far as disasters are concerned it was relatively small, because it was relatively short in duration, it was short in length, we didn't have any fatalities out of it," Clifton said.

Clifton said the county's responders handled the multiple scenes that were affected in a way that he's proud of.

"The department heads, police, fire, EMS, public works, really came together and did their jobs efficiently," Clifton said.

He says even though he says the county handled the situation as it should, efficiency is something the EMA is always working to perfect.

"We by no means have a finished product, but it is a plan," Clifton said. "We do have a plan and it is functional and we're constantly updating that plan to make it better."

He says every storm and severe weather threat is a means for the agency to improve its response plan. "We've been working, really, ever since the tornadoes of the spring of 2011 that were just so devastating here, we've been working to constantly update our plan," Clifton said.

He says residents should do the same, and use this first tornado of this year to be ready for the next one.

"Be prepared for when the storms come, and they will come. This is north Alabama. It's just a part of where we live and we have to be prepared," Clifton said.

The EMA doesn't have an estimate yet on how much the damages from the February 21 tornado will cost.