Scenario: An announcement has just been made that you must evacuate because of an accident at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant.
Quick. What do you do? Where do you go? What do you take?
Tennessee Valley Authority and local officials say too many people don’t know those answers. Authorities are continuing their efforts to change that.
“We want to make sure, in the unlikely event of an emergency, people know what sector they live in and where they need to go,” TVA spokesman Mike Bradley said.
With that in mind, every year TVA distributes calendars to those living within a 10-mile radius of Browns Ferry, which is known as the Emergency Planning Zone. The agency is in the process of delivering new calendars.
The calendars include information on which sector you live in and what route to take in the event of an emergency. There are 20 sectors, including two in eastern Lauderdale County and seven in Lawrence County.
It also has advice on emergency equipment you should have on hand.
There also is a tutorial explaining radiation and how the plant west of Athens operates.
Bradley said the agency wants to make sure those living in the area are prepared. Not only would that assist them, but it also could help control panic and disorganization.
In addition to local residents, Bradley said officials are concerned about those visiting the area and those who are here for a short time, such as construction workers. The task could be eased if residents already are aware of actions to take.
In addition, TVA and local agencies have drills to prepare not only for an emergency, but to coordinate what to do with displaced residents.
“There would be a substantial amount of people from Limestone County heading to the Shoals,” Bradley said.
George Grabryan, director of the Lauderdale County Emergency Management Agency, said the agency’s immediate interest is in distributing information to the community.
That involves working with other agencies.
“We plan as a unit of five counties around that plant,” Grabryan said. “We don’t want folks on one side of the plant’s population getting one message and the other side getting another.”
Lauderdale County EMA Deputy Director Tim Greer said accurate information could prevent people from evacuating when unnecessary. He said part of the problem during the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan is 50,000 people evacuated without being advised to leave.
“We want to make sure people get the right message and understand they don’t necessarily have to run away,” Greer said. “A disaster can be mitigated.”
Bernie Delinski can be reached at 256-740-5739 or bernie.delinski@TimesDaily.com.