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|Reynolds named director of local Homeland Security|
After only few days on the job, Franklin Parish's new Director of the Office of Homeland Security Emergency Preparedness is trying to get a few more people on the job.
Mitch Reynolds, who was appointed to the position by the Franklin Parish Police Jury in a special meeting on September 16, said, "We are now in what's called the 'Recovery' stage."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's Monroe staff is now contacting pre-registered people in the parish and doing home visits.
"But a disaster recovery center—a fixed site in Winnsboro for FEMA to operate out of," is not set, he said.
"So, when people say 'FEMA's in town, it's true, but it's not true," he added.
Reynolds, who spent two years as bailiff for the Fourth District Court in Winnsboro before becoming assistant to now retired Emergency Preparedness Director Bill Mulkey, said some confusion could be caused by the lack of a full time FEMA office.
"Staffing is a problem," he explained and the people from Monroe will be stretched pretty thin until an office is set up."
Home visits are a prominent part of FEMA and its individual assistance program, which is part of the federal program that accompanies a disaster declaration. Franklin Parish is the northernmost Louisiana parish to have a disaster declaration. Another part of the program is the public assistance aspect, which helps governments deal with public property damage, such as to roads.
Reynolds, a former Winnsboro Chief of Police, took over direction of the emergency preparedness as a new government entity. Previously, the office had only temporary status with a part time director.
Franklin Parish was one of four parishes without a full time director and a separate office until earlier this month when funding was secured from the federal government through the state to the parish. Reynolds now has an office in the Sheriff's office auxiliary building near the courthouse.
His office phone number, 435-6247, was established early this week.
Reynolds, who has a total of 26 years experience with the City of Winnsboro, is no stranger to disaster management.
He served as president and an organizer of the Louisiana Chief of Police Association during the Katrina aftermath in 2005.
"That was essentially the creation of a task force to handle logistics and interact with local officials," during emergencies, Reynolds said.