Shelby County EMA Braces for Deep Budget Cuts

Shelby County EMA Braces for Deep Budget Cuts

Come June, the budget for the Shelby County Emergency Management Agency will be mauled. The feds took out the scissors and slashed more than $3 million out of their budget. ABC 24 Watchdog Mike Matthews talked with the EMA director, who says those cuts will come back to create troubles in his department.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Come June, the budget for the Shelby County Emergency Management Agency will be mauled. The feds took out the scissors and slashed more than $3 million out of their budget. ABC 24 Watchdog Mike Matthews talked with the EMA director, who says those cuts will come back to create troubles in his department.

If the world was a target for trouble, Shelby County is the bulls eye. The people who deal with trouble first are the emergency responders, and they've been trained in recent years by the local emergency management agency. If somebody mails an envelope filled with poison to an elected official here, there are plans in place.

Director Bob Nations said, "Our homeland security funds have enabled us to build those capabilities so that we can identify many of those agents and have first responders equipped to go into the environment without harming themselves."

Bob Nations and the EMA get their money from three places: the state, Shelby County, and a big chunk comes from the feds and Homeland Security. That is, a big chunk used to come from the feds.

"We've had a huge cut in specific homeland security programs," said Nations. "Our program, along with 34 others in the U.S., have been eliminated. So it reduces our funding roughly 80 percent. So we're going from $3.6 million a year to $370,000."

Emergency management is sort of like a smoke detector in your house. It sits there and you don't pay much attention to it, until you need it.

With the cuts, all caused by the budget fighting in Washington by the way, Nations says you folks won't notice anything different.

"They're not going to necessarily see how traumatic the elimination of funds, what impact that it has."

But Nation says once the dough is gone, so are a lot of training programs, so are purchases of new equipment. Eventually, he says, you'll notice.

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