BENTON -- When it comes to working toward readiness for a major disaster, Scott County appears to be ahead of the curve.
During their regular meeting Tuesday, Scott County Commissioners discussed the tabletop exercise held Friday at the Clinton Building in Sikeston that examined what might happen following a major earthquake.
"I'm proud to say Scott County probably had a bigger turnout of people than any other county," Commissioner Jamie Burger said.
Commissioners agreed the exercise was productive.
"I thought it brought to light some of the things that we are kind of prepared for but it also brought to light other things we are not prepared for," Burger said.
"I felt like we were more informed in Scott County than the state was," said Commissioner Dennis Ziegenhorn. "We've been at three of these meetings and they've all basically been the same. They're just gathering information to take back."
He said state officials are gathering data but don't seem to have a plan.
"I think everybody is so fearful of what happened in New Orleans that they don't want it to happen again, as far as response time," Ziegenhorn said.
An earthquake on the New Madrid Fault could affect the entire area between St. Louis and Memphis, Tenn., he said.
"We better be prepared to be on our own for three or four weeks," Ziegenhorn said. "We need to start addressing this in next year's budget."
Burger noted that he is the representative on the Homeland Security Board for the County Commission Association for Troop E which covers a 13-county area.
"We're looking at ways for the Homeland Security money to come into the counties and to apply that money as part of disaster relief by buying cots, blankets, MREs, water, flashlights, batteries, bandage supplies and body bags to kind of be better prepared," he said. "Having something on hand or in storage will be better than nothing."
Burger said he plans to recommend this to the County Commission Association during a meeting scheduled today.
"We're really after emergency preparedness -- that's really on our minds," he said. "You can't get a bottle of water from your basement if your basement is no longer there."
"My biggest fear is this happening in the winter months," Ziegenhorn said, "and how to keep people from freezing to death after it happens. There's no way to know the damage it's going to cause, no way to anticipate what we're talking about. The best we can hope for is it never happens."
In other business Tuesday:
* "We did agree to buy a new tractor from Aufdenberg for $69,780," Presiding Commissioner Martin Priggel said.
The agreement includes receiving a minimum of $10,000 for the trade-in of one the county's old tractors.
The second tractor will be auctioned off.
"We're basically upgrading and getting rid of two old tractors for this new one," Ziegenhorn said.
Priggel said in addition to mowing, the new tractor will be used to trim limbs and brush in the winter.
"This same tractor will pull a box blade to help keep the roads graded during the summer months when we're busy with the blacktopping season," he said.
Nobbe of Jackson also offered a tractor at the same price, Burger said.
"The bids were part of a state bid system, so the bids were identical," Burger said, "but they weren't going to allow us as much for our used tractor."
Manufacturers are offering very good discounts on state bids, Burger said.
"We feel like the state bids have given us a good opportunity to improve our equipment and yet be cost effective," he said.
* The county still hasn't received any bids on the surplus patrol car, according to Burger.