Governor Tom Vilsack has ordered his homeland security director to clear up any confusion over statehouse evacuation plans. Joseph Jones, a spokesman for Vilsack, says the governor is acting after complaints from a state legislator who is wheelchair bound and found the evacuation plans lacking. “The governor has asked the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate all of the evacuation plans for all of the agencies here in the capitol,” Jones says. “That way we can ensure that all of the people who are here visiting and all people who work in the capitol are safely and securely evacuated from the capitol in case of an emergency.”
Jones says Vilsack called Homeland Security director David Miller and gave Miller a deadline to get everything resolved. “He’s given them 24 hours,” Jones says. That means by tomorrow — Thursday — all safety measures outlined in the plans are to be in force.
Jones says he’s been assured the agency will accomplish its task by the deadline Vilsack laid out. “The governor believes that everyone in the capitol is safe,” Jones says. “We just want to make sure that those who are in the capitol for the first time or even those who have worked here for several years are safely evacuated, so we want to make sure that Homeland Security has a grasp on what all the agencies are planning to do in case of an emergency.”
Eight different agencies within the statehouse are to have evacuation plans, and Representative Mark Kuhn — the temporarily wheelchair-bound lawmaker who has sparked the interest in statehouse evacuation plans — says he’s found only four of the eight agencies have drafted plans.