The need for an emergency management plan during and following a disaster is not only necessary, it’s basically mandated, since the state requires the county to have a plan in place in order to receive monies for disaster relief assistance. That’s a good thing; a plan should be in place in order to give an organizational template to those in charge of dealing with or preventing impending chaos. The current version of Pickens County’s plan was passed in 1997, and it is quite frankly an affront to the Constitution of the United States of America.
Recently Coweta County proposed a new Emergency Management Ordinance. The new EMO gave the county the ability to regulate firearms. Since it is illegal under the Georgia pre-emption law for a county to regulate firearms, the ordinance was revised thanks to a friendly letter from GeorgiaCarry.Org. A few weeks later Fannin County proposed its own new EMO, identical to Coweta’s, absent the firearm language. This suggests a new GEMA EMO model is being spread about, probably in the same way Pickens got its 1997 ordinance, since several counties have the same EMO as ours. Take a look at this portion of the EMO currently on the books in Pickens County, which does not differ much from the new EMO model currently being shopped around by GEMA through the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG):
Pickens County’s 1997 EMO specifically Sec. 22-34. - Powers during an emergency or disaster.
Seizing or taking for temporary use, any private property for the protection of the public;
Selling, lending, giving, or distributing all or any such property or supplies among the inhabitants of the county and maintaining a strict accounting of property or supplies distributed and for funds received for such property or supplies;
Can you believe that language has been on the books here for 15 years? This gives the Pickens County Emergency Management Agency (consisting of the Pickens County Commissioner and the mayors of cities) the ability to seize then sell, lend, give, or distribute private property. Think about that for a moment. Your stuff - your canned goods, Solo cups, water, ammo, gold, or whatever - can be seized and sold, lent, given, or distributed “among the inhabitants of the county” under the guise of “protection of the public.” Are you getting all this?
What good is selling my “stuff” going to accomplish for the county in a disaster? It’s a silly question. The true question is why the county was allowed to seize my private property in the first place. What can we do, you ask?
There is some good news out of all this. Fannin County’s Commission has scrapped the latest GEMA template and has drafted an all new one. They are also having a group of citizens look it over and make recommendations to make it better. I have seen the working version, and it appears to be something I would like Pickens County to examine and consider adopting once complete.
Now I’m not saying that if we don’t correct this that the county will come take all your stuff during a disaster. I don’t think it will, but the very idea, the very thought that this is even on the books in my county, or in Georgia, or anywhere in America is wrong and needs to be rectified. What would our founding fathers think of an ordinance that “legalizes” illegal seizure? They would easily recognize this as the tyranny they fought to escape. Why has it taken us 15 years to notice this injustice in our own backyard?
Editor's Note: Fannin County adopted a final version of its EMO last month