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Susquehanna County Commissioners Respond to Disaster Queries

By Sandra Raub

As might be expected in light of recent events, a major topic of conversation at the Sept. 14 meeting of the Susquehanna County Commissioners was flood response.

Visitors to the meeting, which was moved to the courthouse clerk’s office due to the emergency response crew still occupying the downstairs meeting room in the county office building, asked what role the commissioners had played as events unfolded during the recent disaster. Commissioner Giangrieco answered, stating that their job was to first and foremost define the county as being in a state of emergency, along with the boroughs and townships throughout, thereby making them eligible for state and federal aid. He elaborated by saying the commissioners’ role expanded to making sure information was distributed to the people who needed it, as well as calling the attention of other government officials to the specific needs of county municipalities and residents. An example of this, said Giangrieco, was working with the Red Cross.

Local Red Cross officials requisitioned the needed equipment from the state level, and the commissioners were able to contact state representative Tom Marino, who in turn contacted the Red Cross at the federal level and was able to expedite the response of emergency response vehicles to the area. In addition, the commissioners were able to take various state and federal officials around the county to view the worst hit areas, as well as to communicate with sources of aid in both Harrisburg and Washington. Essentially, noted Giangrieco, the commissioners were able to “make the people not physically here realize the devastation” that Susquehanna County was experiencing.

At the time of the meeting, the Emergency Operations Center was still open and taking calls and answering needs. Road closings due to damage were posted on the county 911 website, www.Susq911.com, and that site continues to offer information and resources for disaster recovery throughout the area.

In other county business, a brief discussion was held on the Clean & Green program, as some representatives from the assessment office were slated to attend a seminar on Clean & Green violations this month. A visitor asked if Clean & Green status would be re-evaluated on a property if a violation was determined, and the commissioners’ response was that state laws would be followed. The visitor also asked if public access must be allowed to private lands that are designated Clean & Green, and Commissioner Giangrieco noted that this was a common misconception, but is in fact not the case.

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