SHELBY COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - Shelby County voted “yes” to a single local amendment that would make it easier for the city to help in catastrophic emergencies.
The Mutual Aid amendment was proposed in the legislature by State Representative Corley Ellis, R-Columbiana.
Shelby County Attorney Butch Ellis said he hoped the county would never need the measure, but taking into account a storm that tore through the community leaving many without power and extensive damage, he said it’s best they have it in place.
The amendment expedites the process of getting help when it’s most needed after a catastrophic emergency or disaster by allowing entities to make prearranged agreements across cities and counties.
Ellis said it does away with the old system which required votes and signatures from local leaders for county utilities to reach out to neighboring city entities for help.
“Got the contract already in advance. So, they know when they pick up the phone, ‘look we’ve had a catastrophic event. We need help.’ Help is on the way,” Ellis exclaimed.
Ellis used the sewage system in Shelby County to further explain how the amendment would work after a disaster. He said the county has between 14 and 17 sewer systems and some of them are privately owned.
“The Constitutional prohibition before prevented the County and City from using their manpower and resources to access the private utilities in case of a disaster. Now this will allow them to do that.”
Ellis said the prearranged agreements would specify how jobs would be completed, who would be the lead on the job, and compensation.