Eight in 10 cities say their emergency responders still can’t communicate with each other or area towns and 44 percent have not created or updated their evacuation plans, says a U.S. Conference of Mayors survey of 183 cities quoted by USA Today. “Does the public want to hear this? I don’t think so,” says Dearborn, Mi., Mayor Michael Guido, a Republican and head of the mayors’ group. He says cities need more money from Washington but also must do more on their own. Examples: Sign mutual-aid agreements with area towns, plan to share equipment in emergencies, and line up companies ahead of time for tasks such as debris removal.
Most cities say they have not received enough money to get police and firefighters the radios and equipment they need to talk with each other in a crisis. The U.S. Homeland Security Department has granted more than $18 billion to states and localities since 2003, including more than $2 billion for improved communications. “We’re not where we need to be nationally” to be ready for catastrophes, says preparedness chief George Foresman. He said most cities have bought equipment but need more emphasis on training and exercises.