There are 3,069 counties in the U.S. and 64 here in Colorado. Larimer County is 2,640 square miles in size while Arlington County, Virginia is 26-square miles and North Slope Borough, Alaska is 87,860 square miles. There are a little over 300,000 people here in Larimer County, yet Loving County, Texas, has a population of 140 residents while Los Angeles County, Calif., has a population of 9.2 million people!
Counties vary a lot in all kinds of ways, however we also have a lot in common.
Last month was National County Government Month. This year’s theme was: Ready and Resilient Counties: Prepare. Respond. Thrive. In the last few years Larimer County has been challenged to be ready and resilient to prepare, respond and thrive not only during the fires and floods but afterwards as we prepare for spring run off and continue to assist residents in getting back on their feet.
I’m relatively new to Larimer County but not to emergency preparedness. I began my career as a paramedic/firefighter in Summit County and have worked as a planning section chief and a liaison officer for the Jefferson County Incident Management Team for the past several years. Additionally, I have worked at both the local and state government levels in emergency management allowing me to see multiple levels of emergency preparedness and response.
At Larimer County I’m the Director of Emergency Management and Recovery, which means my job involves getting you the information you need to allow you to safeguard your family and work within your community should an emergency occur. The county recently released the “Larimer County Flood Recovery and Preparedness Informational Bulletin.” We worked with our own departments as well as other local agencies and state and federal governments to make sure we included useful information. The bulletin is online at: http://larimer.org/flooding2013, click on the Recovery and Preparedness Information Bulletin.
Key questions out there right now concern spring runoff and we’re preparing for that. One way is by encouraging people to move debris. Our right-of-way debris program will end on May 10. It is vital that flood-related debris is removed prior to spring run-off. The program allows people to take debris to the right-of-way of approved county roads. This doesn’t include state highways or private roads or land clearing activities as flood-related debris is the only material eligible for pick up. To schedule a pick up, please contact the Debris Hotline at 970-498-7140.
Why do counties matter? We have a great video on that at our YouTube site: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVRpCxx-6ls, called “Why Counties Matter.” And if you would like to know more about the services we provide for all 300,000+ of us living in Larimer County, and how you benefit, please check out our 1st ever ‘Community Report’ and video services modules at: http://larimer.org/communityreport/.
Lori Hodges is Director of Emergency Management and Recovery at Larimer County and can be reached at 970-498-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.