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Army unit studies disaster preparedness

Clark County officials got help in disaster preparation from members of the U.S. Army this week.

The 91st Civil Affairs Battalion Airborne Team 131 from Fort Bragg, N.C., was in Springfield to conduct training exercises on military-civilian cooperation in the event of a disaster.

After a week of learning about the community and visiting with area leaders, the group on Friday presented possible contacts and locations that city and county officials could use in the event of an emergency.

Capt. Elisabeth Coffee of the 91st Civil Affairs Battalion said officials found 10 sites in the community -- such as Navistar, Ritchie Brothers and the Upper Valley Mall -- that could serve as possible staging areas where officials could distribute supplies.

She also said the team found real estate companies willing to help find facilities in case of an emergency.

City and county leaders said the presentation will help improve existing disaster plans.

"It was very helpful," Clark County Emergency Management Agency Director Lisa D'Allessandris said. "We still have more followup that we need to do. But we're just that much further along."

The team's stop in Springfield comes just as they are preparing for a deployment to Africa to work with government officials there on relief efforts.

Army officials said working with Springfield and Clark County leaders, as well as other communities in the United States, helps them learn techniques that will benefit them in their work with developing countries.

Springfield City Manager Jim Bodenmiller said the team's efforts to find potential emergency operation sites will save city and county officials time in updating current plans.

Clark County Administrator Nathan Kennedy said the military team found sites that local leaders had already considered, as well as locations that officials hadn't thought about, such as Jim Miller Furniture in Enon.

"It was interesting to host the team from Fort Bragg. They helped us look at things differently," Kennedy said.

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