The Callaway County Community Organizations Active in Disaster held a meeting Tuesday to recap 2019 and prepare for 2020.
Representatives from various local agencies met in the Emergency Operations Center in the basement of the Callaway County Sheriff's Office to touch base for the first time in two months. Pam Phelps will be taking the role of COAD chair in 2020 after Kent Wood held the position throughout 2019.
"(COAD) learned a lot this year with the fire in the apartment buildings in Holts Summit earlier this year and then with the flooding," Wood said. "We learned an awful lot this year. Where were the holes at, how do we fix them and what do we do in cases of disaster?"
Phelps said the local COAD has been in Callaway County for more than a decade. The different service branches of the Callaway County COAD include mass care, long term recovery, medical and mental health response, spiritual and emotional health services, agriculture and rural, and donations and volunteer management.
Wood said COAD needs to work on keeping participants in the loop and attending meetings. Besides Wood and Phelps, there were only six out of the dozens of representatives partnered with the local COAD present at Tuesday's meeting.
"We have to be a good working committee. There's always politics involved with it, but we just have to work together," Phelps said.
Phelps said the main difference between 2019's COAD and 2020 is moving forward in turning the local organization into a regional COAD. Some examples of this include bringing other regional health care providers, heads of different departments that work in disaster services from surrounding counties.
"We are looking at bringing in resources that are not necessarily just in Callaway County but have responsibilities to the county," Phelps said.
Michelle Kidwell, director of emergency management for the Callaway County Emergency Management Agency, gave updates on her office and the ongoing recovery process from this summer's flooding.
Kidwell said Callaway County is still a "long ways away" from receiving money for Public Assistance from FEMA for infrastructure damage from the historic flood. Phelps said there is a large issue with people not understanding how this type of funding works.
"Since I have been here, I can honestly say this has been one of the number one issues that (Kidwell) has had to deal with because people think, 'Well, I meet the criteria for this, why don't I have my money?' It takes months and months," Phelps said.
Kidwell, Phelps and Wood all emphasized the importance of COAD and the need for active participation for the good of the community in the case of a disaster.
"The more people you get trained in your county that know how to help themselves, help their friends and help their neighbors, it's that much less the first responders have to do," Kidwell said.
Phelps said there is still a vacancy in the mass care services branch, and the COAD is looking to have it filled. Mass care is the service in charge of setting up shelters during a disaster.
"We're trying to keep this branch a local person instead of an agency because in a disaster, an agency might have a prior commitment to deal with before they're able to deal with us. Let's not get the head of an agency here, let's get the community here," Phelps said.