Crow Wing County has a new emergency management director – Brainerd Dispatch

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BRAINERD — Crow Wing County’s new emergency management director wants to make sure the county is ready for any hazard — both natural and manmade.

Emergency management and preparing for worst-case scenarios is nothing new for Clayton Barg, Crow Wing County’s emergency management director.

Barg, now in his first month as emergency management director, was a Baxter Police officer for 19 years, with the last seven being assigned to the Crow Wing County Drug Task Force. He recently retired in August from the U.S. Marine Corps after 30 years of both active and reserve duty, where he was putting his bachelor’s degree in emergency management and master’s degree in technology and homeland security management to use.

Barg joined the Marines in 1994 and was an infantryman stationed in Camp Pendleton, California. From there he was assigned to embassy guard duty across the globe, including assignments in Russia, Tokyo, Japan and Morocco.

“Doing embassy security overseas during the time of embassy bombings in Africa and Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, so there was a lot of training that was associated with that,” Barg said. “As far as preparation, planning and the things that you would kind of anticipate as far as terrorist activity. We were educating embassy staff on what to do in an emergency or disaster.”

During his storied time in the Marines, Barg was working in the Pentagon on 9/11; he was a coordination specialist with U.S. Africa Command; he served with Marine forces in their all hazards section; spent seven years with U.S. Strategic Command out of Offutt Air Force Base and the protocol section; and was operations chief for the joint Operation Center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2003.

Barg said most of his career has been planning for the things people don’t want to ever happen.

Born and raised in Pillager and spending 19 years working in different law enforcement aspects in the county, Barg said although he knows a lot of the county’s law enforcement, he has been going around the county and introducing himself to community partners as he looks to get everyone working together.

“If they have any questions or anything we can help them with, we want them to be able to put a name with a face and be able to reach out and feel comfortable reaching out to me with questions or concerns,” Barg said.

So being prepared cannot be overemphasized.

Clayton Barg

One of the main functions of his role in the community is hazard mitigation in the county.

“Identifying hazards throughout the community, both natural and manmade and mitigating as much as you can against those hazards,” Barg said. “You can only bring mitigation down to a certain point. Then you prepare for those events that could potentially happen. Whether it be a severe weather event, a train derailment or a hazardous material spill. So you just kind of prepare for the things you hope never happen.”

Along with getting out into the community and meeting people he will be working with, Barg said he wants to educate the community on how they, too, can prepare for events in their own lives.

A message to the community

Barg said as the area moves into the winter months, he would like the residents of Crow Wing County to look at establishing a plan should they be affected by a severe weather event.

“As witnessed last year, we experienced heavy snow, which resulted in substantial power outages throughout Crow Wing County and the state, some lasting for several days. So being prepared cannot be overemphasized,” Barg said.

This should include, but not be limited to, having a communications plan (including a solar power bank for your cellular phone) to communicate with emergency responders and to stay in touch with family and friends.

It is also important to weatherproof homes, Barg said — insulate water lines, weather-strip doors and place plastic to the inside windows to help insulate — to help keep the warmth in and cold out should a heating source become inoperable.

Other measures include checking the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replacing them if they are expired or inoperable, Barg said. Having enough supplies within a home is another key element, to be self-sufficient to last three days, including food, water and prescription medications, including for pets. Clearing low-hanging branches over or near a home will help mitigate damage to the home during an ice or heavy snow event, which may break branches, causing damage to the home. Having a home first aid kit is also essential to treat any minor injuries sustained during this period, he said.

“Don’t forget about your vehicle. Have extra warm clothing — hats, coats, mittens, and blankets — in your vehicle,” Barg said. “A cellphone, portable charger, shovel, flashlight with extra batteries and a first aid kit with any necessary medications are a few things, which we should have prestaged in our vehicle. In addition, try to keep adequate fuel in your car and not let it get too close to empty should you find yourself in the ditch or stranded.”

If an evacuation is needed, Barg said residents should follow the direction of local law enforcement, who will provide information on evacuation routes and shelter/warming facilities. Residents should bring their pets with them, too, as they are part of the family. Proper facilities will be established to ensure people are able to remain with them or facilities will be provided to ensure pets are properly cared for during the event.

Additional information on Severe Weather Awareness and the ability to sign up for emergency and optional community alerts is also available on Crow Wing County’s website at

crowwing.gov/356/Emergency-Management

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TIM SPEIER, staff writer, can be reached on Twitter

@timmy2thyme

, call 218-855-5859 or email

tim.speier@brainerddispatch.com

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