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Jerry Ibberson was appointed last week by the Ellendale City Council as Ellendale’s new local emergency management director. He will be bringing the city’s emergency response system up to date.

Ibberson and the council will be discussing better preparedness in the wake of the Veteran’s Day train derailment.

Ibberson’s Star Eagle column, “Hey, it’s your life!” debuts in the Star Eagle this week. Please check it out.

Here is Ibberson's first column:

Everyone should be signed up for emergency alerts

Welcome to my new emergency/preparedness column. The name is based on the idea that it is your life, your family and friends’ lives. Takes some responsibility. There is helpful information out there, if you want to use it.

First, a little about myself. I moved to Ellendale about 10 years ago to marry my lovely wife Karen. I have been retired for a few years now and Karen and I do  a lot of volunteer work. It is mostly centered around rare plant research for the Minnesota DNR. Because of this, we were able to become site stewards for the Clinton Falls Dwarf White Trout Lily Scientific and Natural Area.

I have also worked with Steele County Emergency Management in a number of volunteer positions through Skywarn, CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), Steele County CAER (Community Awareness and Emergency Response). and Steele County Amateur Radio KDØKRY. I am also a Minnesota Master Naturalist, a board member of the Hormel Nature Center in Austin, a member of the American Legion post in Ellendale, and a 40-year Firearms Safety Instructor for the New Richland Area Sportsman's Club.

I really did not need any more work as I am supposed to be retired, but I was recently appointed to the position of Emergency Manager for the City of Ellendale and received my Emergency Managers Certification from the Minnesota Dept. of Public Safety/ Dept. of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Through that position I hope to bring an informative column to the paper that features safety and emergency-related information to our local area. It is not always an easy task. Due to our location, this column will cover a three-county area. This will lead to me trying to include information that applies to everyone in our small area. There are some minor differences in how things are done in each county and I will try to cover all the bases.

First off, if anyone has suffered flood damage due to the fall flooding that hit our area, be sure to check for possible financial relief. Make sure your neighbors who may need assistance are aware of possible assistance.

FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers are open in Steele, Freeborn, and Waseca Counties to help renters, homeowners and businesses in Minnesota affected by the severe storms and flooding of Sept. 21-24. These offices will be open into January or until assistance is completed.

At the recovery centers, representatives from FEMA, the Homeland Security Emergency Management division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the U.S. Small Business Administration and other agencies explain disaster assistance programs, answer questions about written correspondence and provide literature about repairs and rebuilding to make homes more flood resistant. Contact your city or county for the location of these offices.

The train derailment caused quite a commotion in Ellendale a few weeks ago. It all turned out quite well, with no injuries. One of the big questions I have received was about the notification, especially in regards to the vent-and-burn that occurred early Saturday morning. Some people received phone notifications while others did not. My answer is always the same: “Are you signed up for your county's emergency communication system?” The answer I often receive is “No, what is that?”

Emergency communication systems will send you an alert about emergencies and other important community news when you sign up for the Emergency Alert Program. This system enables the county or city to provide you with critical information quickly in a variety of situations, such as severe weather, unexpected road closures, missing persons and evacuations of buildings or neighborhoods. You will receive time-sensitive messages wherever you specify, such as your home, mobile or business phones, email address, text messages and more. You pick where, you pick how.

Everyone should be signed up. Here in Steele County we use the Everbridge Citizen Alert. We also have a booklet of instructions available at the Ellendale city office.

Waseca County uses Code Red. 

Freeborn County uses the Alert Center.

You can sign up for any of these at either your County's or Sheriff's official Web site. They are fairly easy to find.

If you do not have access to the Internet, ask a friend or family member for help.

It only takes a few minutes and most are customizable to only receive alerts that you want and the times you receive them. A Lightning Alert at 3 a.m. is not always welcome,  but a Tornado or Flood Warning is welcome at anytime. Alerts can be sent to land lines and or mobiles.

Questions or comments are always welcome. You can contact me through the Star Eagle or through the Ellendale City Clerk’s office.


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