Small-Scale Evacuation Drill At Buckeye Lake

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Emergency management authorities and first responders are evaluating an evacuation drill at Buckeye Lake.

The Saturday morning drill was critical after a recent report revealed the Buckeye Lake Dam is at risk of catastrophic failure.

People who call Buckeye Lake home say they've been preparing for the worst if there was a breach at the dam.

"We could be looking at anything from a catastrophic breach due to a home explosion to three days advance notice because of something that happens to the dam itself with slow erosion," said Licking County Emergency Management Director Sean Grady.

The drill was an opportunity for residents and first responders to get ready for a worst case scenario.

Sirens and recorded messages alerted families of evacuation plans.

An Ohio Emergency Management Agency spokesman says Saturday's evacuation exercise was planned to focus on populations with special needs, such as the elderly and residents bringing pets. Emergency responders were to walk through the steps of evacuation and sheltering with volunteers playing the role of residents.

The run-through reveals mutual aid in action: area school districts pledging to make busses and school buildings available to evacuees in a breach and the American Red Cross with at least 60 volunteers ready to assist evacuees from the three counties that are covered by Buckeye Lake.

"Usually about 20% of the people who need shelter come to a shelter," said American Red Cross Shelter Manager Larry Green.

Next up, officials plan a local demonstration of their response capabilities May 30, possibly including an air lift.

They also plan to monitor how crowds disperse after the annual Fourth of July fireworks at the lake, which draws tens of thousands of people. They'll watch for traffic patterns and other information that could be useful if evacuations occur.