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Challand Middle School, Sterling High School will serve as FEMA shelters

STERLING – The Sterling Public Schools District 5 Board approved the use of its facilities in the event of a natural disaster or other federal emergency, such as a terrorist attack.

The district is a signatory, along with other entities, in Whiteside County’s All Hazards Mitigation Plan.

A 519-page document outlines what actions the Federal Emergency Management Agency can take.

Superintendent Tad Everett said that by adopting the plan, participants can be eligible for federal funding to implement aspects of it.

According to the plan, Sterling High School and Challand Middle School would – in the event of an emergency – act as a shelter for Sterling residents. Their large gyms, bathrooms and showers could serve a large, displaced population.

The hazard plan calls for the district to buy two power generators, one for each site. Everett said board approval did not commit the district to the expenditure, but it is one the district has explored in the past.

Sterling Public Schools Superintendent Tad Everett and board of education President Pam Capes review the district's participation in a county-wide disaster plan on Wednesday during a board of education meeting.

Sterling Public Schools Superintendent Tad Everett and board of education President Pam Capes review the district’s participation in a county-wide disaster plan on Wednesday during a board of education meeting. (Troy Taylor/Sauk Valley)

“The big issue for us is we house all of our servers for district computers here,” Everett said later in explanation. “So if power goes off at the high school, we don’t have internet for the entire school district. So, the reality of having a generator for the high school is something that we’ve researched.”

Everett said that when the administration shopped around last year, it found that an industrial diesel generator with the capability to power one school would cost about $70,000.

“So, we’re looking for grants, donor opportunities,” he said. “It is something that we’re really strongly pursuing, and it would be a valuable asset to the district.”

The multijurisdictional hazards plan would bring Whiteside County into compliance with the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 and make it eligible for federal funding. These plans are subject to annual review and must be updated every five years.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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