EMA Director Ellen Haynes and Riverside Mayor Rusty Jessup show the size of one of Riverside’s new CSEPP-purchased power generators.

During times of natural or manmade disasters, one of the most critical issues to consider for any town or county affected is power and water.

Thanks to recent acquisitions in relation to the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program, the town of Riverside has been fortunate enough to be able to address that concern in a large way.

Through CSEPP, which will be ending in the near future, Riverside was able to acquire three large generators, with two of those serving to keep the town’s water supply intact during power outages.

“With the generators, we can carry on all emergency services,” said Riverside Fire Chief Tim Kurzejeski. “With the generators, we will also not have a stoppage for our water supply to residents and they also ensure that we will always have back-up power. “

Kurzejeski said the generators were obtained in conjunction with a program specifically for communities in Alabama that participated in CSEPP.

“(Gaining the generators) is a real advantage for our city and the continued use of them will help us in our emergency preparedness efforts,” Kurzejeski said. “We were able to secure all three generators within the last three to four months. Each of them came from a different area. We also got them at a very low cost which was the setup and installation of them.”

When the six CSEPP counties were asked if they wanted any of the generators that were to be reallocated from CSEPP schools, St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency Director Ellen Haynes immediately started getting the word out to municipalities and to St. Clair County Property Manager Harold Hoyle.  

“We just couldn’t let an opportunity this good pass us by,” said Haynes. “These are Cummins and Kohler generators from 150 to 350 KW of back-up power and are in excellent condition. They will provide years of emergency power. And the best part, there is no cost to the receiving entity other than the cost of installation. Even the generators are delivered and placed onto the concrete pad that we readied without a cost. We were able to get a total of eight generators for St. Clair County. The other five generators will be placed at critical facility locations in Pell City, Springville and the county.”

Kurzejeski said that two of the Riverside generators are located at the water pumps to ensure that will always be a good water supply no matter what type of disaster might arise.

“The pumps will be able to kick on and continue to provide water to residents in the city,” said Kurzejeski.

The third generator, located at the town’s fire station, will ensure that the town’s emergency operators will never experience a loss of power.

“We will be able to continue a localized operation where police, fire and public works can continue to work together,” Kurzejeski said. “Our storm shelter is already obviously generator powered.”

He said it cannot be overstated how important the acquisition of the generators, which are all natural gas, ensuring an almost endless fuel supply, has been for the Town of Riverside.

“As a fire chief, a major part of putting together an emergency plan is also having a secondary plan in place,” said Kurzejeski. “These generators have taken a lot of (concern) away as far as that type of planning goes. They were a necessity.”

He said although he considers Riverside a very proactive and progressive community, he said gaining the generators at an economically favorable cost is still huge.

“We are a smaller city and we do have financial restrictions,” Kurzejeski said. “We would have never been able to secure generators like this on our own.”

The generators, which will prove to be a vital boost for the town’s emergency efforts, are just another prime example of the legacy that CSEPP will leave for the various participating counties in Alabama.

“In a way, I am glad to see (the program end) because that means all of the chemicals have gone away, but in another way I hate to see it end because of what it has meant to all of the local agencies,” Kurzejeski said. “It has been a successful program thanks also due to the continued support of the St. Clair County EMA. It has always been helpful in providing emergency personnel and protection for our citizens and (the equipment the town has gained through CSEPP) has not only benefitted city personnel, but the citizens in the town. Riverside Mayor Rusty Jessup and the council have also been very supportive of the program.”

Springville Fire Chief Richard Harvey said the town’s new generators will enhance response capabilities significantly.

“The acquisition of the two CSEPP generators will greatly impact our department’s ability to quickly respond to incidents in which there has been a loss of power to either one of our fire stations,” said Harvey. “Currently our personnel have to pull a portable generator outside, and manually connect a small generator to run our lights, radio and garage doors. With the acquisition of these large generators, and automatic transfer switches, this process will be done automatically with the capability of running the entire station, including heat and air.”

He said Springville’s Fire Station No. 1 acts as the town’s local emergency operations center in the event of a large scale incident.

“All city department heads along with the elected officials report to the fire station to coordinate a response to problems that may be encountered,”  Harvey said. “By adding this generator, it helps to ensure continuity of government by allowing day-to-day operations to continue for city departments.”

Pell City Mayor Bill Hereford said he is also ecstatic about the addition of two new generators for his city, as well.

“It really is a great thing,” Hereford said. “Recent events have made us aware of the fragility of infrastructure and the need for having back-up sources. We had no back-up previously, but now for two of our wells we have generators. It is a wonderful thing that in the event of a major outage, we would be assured of a good supply of water and it’s a very good feeling.”