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Jim Cunningham named EMA director
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Jim Cunningham has been appointed Emergency Management Agency director after working as assistant director since 1992.
When asked if he likes his job, Cunningham laughingly replied, “Well, I have to. Something has made me stick around this long.”
Cunningham started volunteering with EMA in 1974 after taking a radiological course teaching how to measure and read radiation in case of fallout. This course was given at the height of the nuclear scare when an attack was widely feared.
Cunningham said after the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster in the Ukraine in 1986, very tiny amounts of radiation could be measured in the United States. But, he has never had to use the information he gathered from that first course.
The EMA develops the emergency plan for Warren County to bring the community out of a widespread disaster or to help prevent a disaster. The local EMA is a direct line between the county and Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA). If Warren County exhausts its resources in a disaster, and more resources are needed, TEMA can provide support from anywhere in the state. If TEMA does not have the resources, the federal government can provide assistance. EMA acts as a pipeline for furnishing aid.
Cunningham says the biggest worry EMA faces is Mother Nature, or weather-related disasters. He says Warren County, thankfully, has not had a threat from a man-made disaster. EMA will help people during heat-related emergencies, severe thunderstorms, floods, tornados, ice storms and snow.
Cunningham says tornados and floods have posed the biggest danger to Warren County residents.
“We had the last tornado that hit close to the airport, and about five years ago we had two tornados that caused three fatalities. Weather-related emergencies are what affect the most people,” he said. “Thank goodness we have had nothing bad happen that has affected a lot of people. I hope we don’t have any disasters.”
EMA is currently without an assistant director. Cunningham says County Executive John Pelham will decide if, and when, the county will begin the process of hiring an assistant director.
Cunningham says EMA is thankful for its volunteers, many of whom served with EMA back when it was called Civil Defense.