Local government staff and emergency responders were busy in Cedar Rapids Wednesday, though nothing was actually wrong. It’s a drill that Mayor Paul Pate says is routine, in case of a disaster or homeland security situation. They do the drills about six times a year. Wednesday the scenario was a terrorist attack like a bomb in a public building and the response to everything that would result from that. For example, Pate says the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Department tried out responses in case they were ordered to evacuate the jail. While federal Homeland Security officials have told local governments to hold some kind of drill, Mayor Pate says Cedar Rapids and other area governments have taken the federal program a step further. They’ve done airport exercises with pretend planes crashing, drills at the Duane Arnold Nuclear Plant, and other hands-on rehearsal to see how well things work under pressure.
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