Green Bay prepares evacuation plans for chemical leak or terrorist attack

By Millaine Wells, Local 5 News

Published 05/15 2014 06:02PM

Updated 05/15 2014 06:04PM

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) - If Green Bay was forced to evacuate, how long would it take?

That was the question posed during a unique drill today.

Every day, dangerous chemicals come through our community on trains, trucks, and ships.

Businesses along ports in the United States, like St Marys cement are required to conduct homeland security drills.

But the local manager wanted to take it a step further by partnering with other businesses and area emergency crews.

"Safety is paramount, your lives are more important that what we are doing" says Michael Vizer, the terminal manger for St Marys Cement.

He was the driving force behind a unique training exercise.

"We simulated a terror attack on a rail car containing a very flammable and toxic chemical" explains David Siegel, with the Green Bay Metro Fire Department.

"I think the most important thing that we are going to learn from this is how we will interact with our emergency responders" says Vizer.  

Firefighters walked neighborhoods to determine how much time would be needed for a door to door evacuation.

"It is kind of nice that they do stuff like this and keep the community safe" says Danny Schwemer, who lives in the mock evacuation zone.

While Green Bay has never had a large scale evacuation, it has happened in our area.

"The best comparison to this would be Weyauwega in 1996 the LP incident that required an entire village to be evacuated for two weeks" recalls Siegel.  

The drill uncovered problems.

"There is some issues with evacuating because you have to shut down the plants, you cannot just flip off a light switch" says Paul Gazdik, Emergency Management Director for Brown County. 

Evacuating large companies is also challenging.

"They do not know how many people are there or where they are at" says Siegel.

Now companies like St Marys will work to find solutions.

According to Vizer "Green Bay is very safe city, as far as the great lakes area there has never been a credible threat to maritime shipping. However, the government feels that we still need to be prepared".

Citizens like Schwemer are glad to see plans in place. " You never know, attacks are everywhere. You do not know where it is going to be" he says.

Officials say on the positive side communication worked exactly as planned during the drill.

Roughly 50 people were involved in today's training.

In addition to the Green Bay Fire Department. Green Bay Police and the FBI participated.   

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