The Russell County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is joining other South Alabama emergency management agencies to address a mutual aid problem.
The office is joining the South Alabama Mutual Aid Compact, an agreement between a number of Alabama counties to aid each other in the event of a major emergency situation.
Russell County Emergency Management Coordinator Kathy Russell said the compact comes out of a situation that arose during the March 1, 2007 tornado outbreak, when a twister hit Enterprise High School collapsing a wall and killing eight students.
A Dothan, Ala., search and rescue team heard about the tornado and the loss of life, and attempted to reach the Enterprise EMA director.
"Of course, his phone was busy because everyone was calling. So they came anyway, as we all would do for our neighbors," said Russell. "Later, after the disaster had been declared and they started looking for FEMA reimbursement for the outside response and well as the internal response, FEMA would not allow it because they didn't have a previously mutual aid agreements."
The federal agency eventually reimbursed the Dothan agency, but the need for an agreement to cover such incidents was established. The result is a mutual aid agreement covering all of South Alabama.
Russell said all local agencies will be covered by the new compact except for Columbus, which has a separate agreement in place with Russell County.