Overview of the EMA

The Wheeling-Ohio County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency is Ohio County's emergency task force, tasked with coordinating response to disasters and other major emergencies across the county. The agency's dedicated team monitors the county for natural hazards and other emergency situations. During an emergency situation the agency coordinates the response of all local, county, state, and federal agencies and disseminates key information to the rest of the community. The agency is also responsible for restoring vital functioning components to the area that has been affected. A key theme in its approach is human safety and assistance first and foremost.

The office serves under the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management in Charleston. Jimmy Gianato serves as the director of the state office. Locally, the office reports to the Ohio County Commission, the executive office of the county government. The city of Wheeling is directed by a city manager and mayor-council form of government.

During day-to-day operations the agency monitors the county for potential threats and ensures that the emergency operations plan is logistically possible if an emergency arises. During an emergency the agency activates its state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Center. This command and control center is the heart of the activities and relief efforts of the county, state, federal, and private organizations for the county.

The Emergency Management Agency develops and maintains an extensive database of available resources for emergency situations as well as a network of local institutions, businesses, schools, and churches that provide shelter and care for community members. The agency is also the lead agency for coordinating volunteers throughout the county who serve their neighbors by participating in Citizen Corps efforts.

The emergency management agency responds to both natural and technological events. Ohio County has three major creeks within its boundaries along with the Ohio River that borders the county’s western boundary. Seven dams make up the Wheeling Creek watershed. Also, being located in the Eastern United States, the county faces the annual threat of winter storms.

Major transportation routes include Interstates 70 and 470 along with West Virginia Route 2. The Ohio River poses significant threats by way of commercial transportation. For these reasons the Chemical Manufacturers Association chose Ohio County as its sixth transportation community awareness and response site in the nation. Ohio County also resides in the pathway of the Beaver Valley Power Station in Shippingport, PA. Finally, the Ohio County Airport north of Wheeling and the Pittsburgh International Airport offer additional threats.


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