FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor took a tour of the new Accomack County Emergency Operations Center in Melfa Monday afternoon. Gaynor was joined by Assistant Administrator Levi Gibson and Regional Administrator Mary Ann Tierney. Also on the tour were officials from the Virginia Department of Emergency Services including Region 5 administrator Bruce Sterling , Curtis Brown and John North.
Also in attendance were Chincoteague EOC Director Bryan Rush, Mayor Arthur Leonard and Town Manager Mike Tolbert along with Accomack County Administrator Mike Mason.
The group toured the new EOC command center located at the Fire Training center on Beacon Road near Melfa,
Gaynor told the group that at the local level emergency operations are all about leadership and he complimented the county in taking the initiative to build the new EOC. He said he was glad that local leadership is invested in the program.
When asked what else was needed in Accomack County, EMS Director C. Ray Pruitt said that he was thankful to have the things that the County has provided. But he did say that while Accomack like many small communities does a good job of preparing for a storm or other disaster, the problem comes when the members of the staff grow tired and have get some sleep and that results in short staffing during the recovery period.
Gaynor said that good people are your wisest investment. He said that it is one thing to have all of the gadgets the government wants to provide but that in the end good people make it all come together.
Gaynor also said that the government has established a superfund for firefighters during the COVID crisis. The fund will be approximately $100 million and information on applying will be available shortly.
Gaynor also said that he is a member of President Trump’s Coronavirus task force and inquired about the situation in Accomack County. He said that the task force is dedicated to providing more assistance and support to rural areas like the Eastern Shore.
Gaynor said that in the end the best way to beat the virus is for everyone to wear a mask, keep your hands clean, practice social distancing and avoid crowded events including crowded house parties.