Disaster plan, signals at Soo Line crossing are public safety initiatives in Richville
Tiny it is, but the community of Richville is steeped in the small town tradition of taking care of its citizenry on a personal, hometown basis. Topping the agenda for City Council members when they take their oath of office January 2007 will be ...
Tiny it is, but the community of Richville is steeped in the small town tradition of taking care of its citizenry on a personal, hometown basis.
Topping the agenda for City Council members when they take their oath of office January 2007 will be a city emergency-disaster plan - including the installation of a civil defense siren.
"We're in a unique situation. We have no police, no fire department, no city staff, " said City Clerk Gil Ebner. "If something happens, we're on our own until emergency people come from Perham or Ottertail or wherever."
With a tornado and an intense wind storm hitting the Richville area in separate incidents over the past two years, the city council recognizes the need for a plan.
Weather isn't the only threat to Richville.
With the Soo Line running as many as a dozen trains a day through town, there are also risks of accidents and derailments.
An "exterior warning system," a fancy name for one of those intensely loud sirens, is being discussed with Otter Tail County officials.
"But a lot of our emergency plan will be based on taking care of yourself, and taking care of your neighbor," said City Clerk Ebner. "We start with some kind of warning system...and then we're going to take care of each other until help arrives. That's how it should be. People have a tendency to wait until somebody comes to bale them out. But in the face of trouble, it's better if we're able to take care of ourselves."
Many of Richville's homes have no basements to provide shelter, and most residents are elderly. The city's emergency plan will be devised to check on senior citizens first, to see if they need assistance, said Ebner.
In this age of "instant information," advanced telecommunications and internet access, a town emergency siren may seem archaic.
"Over the past two years, we had a tornado take down a farm and tremendous wind storms. Even though the damage was right near town, a lot of people didn't even hear about it until the next day. In both situations, there was no way to warn people," said Ebner.
Another public safety improvement is expected before year end: Signal lights and an arm at the Soo Line railroad crossing.
"It's amazing how many people don't even slow down when they go across the tracks," said Ebner. There have been accidents, though none fatal in recent history.
Soo Line has delivered the materials and they are waiting trackside for installation at the crossing. Crews are expected to install the fixtures before Jan 1.