Counties stand prepared



The likelihood of terrorists disrupting life in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties might be low. Nevertheless, Tuolumne and Calaveras counties' offices of emergency services are prepared, now that the war with Iraq has started.

Tuolumne County OES Coordinator Maureen Frank and her Calaveras County counterpart, Clay Hawkins, are making sure teams of emergency personnel and equipment are ready for any possible terrorist attack here. And they are ready to help in other counties.

Last month, the California Department of Justice released a list of 661 potential terrorist targets buildings, dams, amusement parks, government buildings and utility infrastructures.

Two of those are in Tuolumne County Don Pedro Reservoir and Hetch Hetchy Water and Power plant in Moccasin. Another site, Pardee Reservoir, is in Calaveras County.

Both counties also share responsibility for protecting New Melones Reservoir.

Calaveras County maintains a hazardous materials team and a bomb squad, and Hawkins said those crews have stockpiled double the equipment they usually have on hand.

Though the campaign against Iraq began last night, the nation's security level, issued by the federal Department of Homeland Security, remained at orange high, but not severe. That will probably change, Frank said.

Since Monday, the state Office of Emergency Services in Rancho Cordova has been operating around the clock to coordinate emergency personnel and equipment that might be needed to deal with any attack, Frank said. And the California Anti-terrorism Task Force Information Center is relaying information to all county OES managers about anything remotely related to terrorist activity.

"Plus we are having now twice-a-day conference calls with other OES managers in our region," Frank said.

California is split into six regions. Tuolumne and Calaveras counties are part of Region 4 along with Amador, Placer, Nevada, Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Sacramento counties.

The Union Democrat
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