March 15, 2006 - L.M. Claiborne, a Holmes County native, and Levell Blanchard, both with the Mississippi Department of Homeland Security, were invited by the mayor of the city of Lexington to present information to the Board of Aldermen and city department heads at its slated meeting on March 7 at City Hall.
Mississippi Homeland Security is under the umbrella of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, and it has three divisions: Grants and Administration overseen by Blanchard, Training and Exercise overseen by Mr. Claiborne, and Operations overseen by Bob Nations.
Claiborne stated, "We (Homeland Security) are not trying to invent something new; we are enhancing capabilities you already have." He explained that each local government is still responsible for managing its own disasters, and if that level of assistance is inadequate each local government is responsible for asking for help from Homeland Security.
Homeland Security's goal is not to come and take over in a community, but to assist.
Blanchard and Claiborne reiterated that local training is a must. There are comprehensive emergency management plans which must be incorporated by local governments; these must mesh with state plans and also federal plans.
Homeland Security and Emergency Management are virtually different names for similar services.
Blanchard explained that grant monies are available for local governments, but application must be made. Lexington has received funding in the past, and is preparing its application for current available funding. These funds may be used for such things as planning, training, conducting exercises, purchasing equipment for decontamination, detection, and protection.Homeland Security presented safety information