The hard eight: Buncombe's main hazards
Buncombe County "is exposed to many hazards, all of which have the potential to disrupt the community, cause damage, and create casualties," the emergency plan notes.
Near the beginning, it identifies eight key categories of hazards. Below is a condensed version of that list, with excerpts from the EOP:
Major Fires: "The possibility of a major urban fire is considered remote in the County. This is not to say that structural fires will not occur, but rather that the chances of one fire spreading to burn large areas of a community are almost nil.
Forest fires which destroy vast tracts of timber within the county have been identified as a significant hazard by local government."
Floods: "Flooding continues as one of our most destructive natural hazards."
Tornadoes/High Winds: "Avoidance of tornadoes is virtually impossible, and all Buncombe County is vulnerable to their occurrence. The fact that the County has experienced few tornadoes does not mean that tornadoes will not occur in the County in the future. However, Buncombe County is not located in the National Primary Tornado Incidence Zone."
Severe Winter Storms: "In Buncombe County, snow and sleet occur on an average of four or five times each year. ... The main effect of winter storms in the County is immobility.
Due to practical considerations, the local governments and populations lack the necessary equipment and firsthand experience to expeditiously cope with the problems presented."
Hazardous Materials: "Hazardous materials found in Buncombe County include chemicals and other allied products, the bulk of which are organic chemicals used in the manufacture of chemical products and pesticides and inorganic chemicals found primarily in paints, dyes, metal plating and fertilizer.
Petroleum products in the form of liquid fuels and lubricants make up the bulk of our hazardous materials."
Drought: "Buncombe County is vulnerable to severe droughts. ... Prolonged periods of dry weather cannot be forecast; however, general trends are known. The months of April, May and June generally offer the highest probability for a deficiency of rainfall because the rate of evaporation usually exceeds the amount of precipitation during these months."
Power Failure: "Whenever it occurs, it tends to aggravate the situation due to loss of light and power needed to operate the equipment for controlling the situation.
Should it continue for any length of time, alternate sources must be provided."
Dam Failure: "The resulting rushing wall of water downstream constitutes the danger of dam failure."
Lines of succession: Keeping government going
Several sections of the document read something like the civil-defense plans of years gone by, when nuclear war seemed a grave risk. These sections address the critical matter of "continuity of government" -- ways to ensure that local officials and the public know who's in charge, in the event that any senior officials are killed in a disaster.
Below, an excerpt from the EOP that appears under the subheading "County Government Line of Succession."
1. Board of Commissioners: The line of succession for the Board of commissioners is from the Chairman to the Vice Chairman, continuing through the remaining board members according to their order of seniority. In the absence of the aforesaid officials, this line of succession would proceed to the County Manager.
2. Administration and Operations: The line of succession for County management is from the County Manager to Assistant County Managers or designated representative.
3. Preparedness and Coordination: The line of succession for county emergency preparedness and coordination is from the Emergency Management Director to the designated Emergency Management staff representatives.
4. Departmental Organization: The line of succession within each department or agency is according to their respective SOPs [Standard Operating Procedures].
RADPRO: Radioactive Protection
In an 11-page annex, the EOP summarizes the county's plans for radioactive protection, or "RADPRO."
On the radioactive front, the plan notes that Buncombe faces "peacetime hazards" both external and internal. Below, a summary of those hazards.
"The County is susceptible to accidents involving the transportation of radioactive materials. The primary road systems used are I-40 and I-26. Radiography sources used to x-ray pressure pipe welds can be transported over road systems within the County.
"Sources of potential radiological hazards within the County are: Hospitals and industry."
Annex Q: Bioterrorism
A 17-page annex to the EOP, titled "Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Plan," takes up the specter of "the unlawful release of biological agents/micro-organisms or toxins."
Messy business, this. The document dutifully details the main types of "disease agents" that might be unleashed -- anthrax, smallpox, plague, botulism, tularemia and viral hemorrhagic fevers -- and the local procedures for responding to a "mass casualty event" caused by bioterrorism.
At one point, the annex even speculates on locations that might be regarded as "potential targets." See the list below.
Possible targets in Buncombe County include:
• Planned Parenthood clinics
• Abortion clinics
• Asheville Regional Airport
• Transportation system
• Government complexes
• Special events involving a large number of people
• Area hospitals
• Water/food supply; utilities
Too many dam problems: The potential for H20 overflow
Floods -- whether flash or otherwise -- are described in the EOP as a regular and serious concern for Buncombe's emergency planners. Below, the plan's list of the county's "high hazard" dams -- those deemed most susceptible to overflow.
High Hazard Dams In Buncombe County:
Beaver Lake Dam
Bee Tree Lake Dam
Black Mountain Reservoir Dam
Busbee Reservoir Dam
Echo Lake Dam
Flattop Mountain Lake Dam
Franks Fishing Lake Dam
Jewell Acres Dam
Caldwell Pond Dam
Morgan Pond Dam
North Fork Reservoir Dam
Lake Tsuga Dam (Former Ponderosa Lake Dam)
Camp Ridgecrest Lake Dam
Ross Creek Dam
Msd Treatment Plant Dam
Lake Susan Dam
Lake Tomahawk Dam
Woodfin Reservoir Dam
Woodland Hills Dam
Lutz Dam (Former Sluder Dam)
Starnes Cove Dam
Laurel Lake Dam
Kyfields Condominiums Dam
Lake Craig Dam
Enka Lake Dam
Lake Charles Dam
State of emergency -- and emergency powers
Buncombe County's emergency plan includes a draft county ordinance that, if passed, would authorize the chairman of the Board of Commissioners to declare a "state of emergency."
Following that document is a draft proclamation spelling out some of the restrictions that might be imposed, from curfews to bans on transporting alcohol and firearms off the owner's property. Below is the full text of that draft proclamation (blanks in the document are reproduced as well).
Proclamation Of A County State Of Emergency
Section 1. Pursuant to County Ordinance _____ and Chapter 166A of the General Statutes and Article 36A Chapter 14 of the General Statutes, I have determined that a State of Emergency as defined in County Ordinance _____ exist in the County of Buncombe.
Section 2. I, therefore, proclaim the existence of a State of Emergency in the County of Buncombe.
Section 3. I hereby order all county law enforcement officers and employees and all other emergency management personnel subject to my control to cooperate in the enforcement and implementation of the provisions of the county emergency ordinances which are set forth below.
Section 4. Evacuation. I have determined that, in the best interest of public safety and protection, it is necessary to evacuate the civilian population from the County of Buncombe. Citizens are free to use any type of transportation, but they are to use only ____ in leaving the county. Evacuation is to occur as soon as possible. Further proclamation concerning evacuation will be issued as needed.
Section 5. Curfew. Unless a member of the County's law enforcement agency or the emergency management program, every person who is located within a _____ radius of _____ is to be inside a house dwelling from the hours of _____ to _____.
Section 6. No Alcoholic Beverages. There shall be no sale, consumption, transportation, or possession of alcoholic beverages during the State of Emergency in the County of Buncombe, except possession or consumption is allowed on a person's own premises.
Section 7. No firearms, ammunition, or explosives. During the State of Emergency, there shall be no sale or purchase of any type of firearm or ammunition, or any possession of such items along with any type of explosive off owner's own premises.
Section 8. Execution of Emergency Plan. All civilians and emergency management personnel are ordered to comply with the emergency reaction plan.
Section 9. This proclamation shall become effective immediately. Proclaimed this the _____ day of _____ 19__, at _____ (a.m.) (p.m.)
CHAIRMAN BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS