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Panel discusses city disaster response

On October 11, 2005

A panel of experts on urban disaster planning spoke about problems cities face preparing effectively for and responding to natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, on Sept. 28 in the Golding Auditorium. "New Orleans: Lessons for Homeland Security and Emergency Management in New England," featured a research associate from Dartmouth Medical School, a former director of city planning for New Orleans and the management director for the city of Waltham.

Lt. Bernard Mullin of the Waltham City Fire Dept. spoke about how Waltham responds to terrorism and health emergencies. He noted that Brandeis is at particular risk for a terrorist attack because of its Jewish roots.

Mullin said Waltham's disaster response plan is one of only a handful in Massachusetts that are developed by a certified planning committee.

"We have a good plan that's been developed over a number of years," he said.

Although Waltham does not have a plan to evacuate the entire city, Mullin said the city has designated city-owned shelters, including Gosman Sports Convocation Center.

"I think Waltham is as safe as any community can be," he said. "Can the plan be improved? Yes, plans can always be improved."

Kristina Ford, the New Orleans' city planner from 1992-2000 and an Environmental Studies professor at Bowdoin College, opened her presentation on the reasons to rebuild New Orleans with a series of photographs of the city during and following the hurricane.

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