LANCASTER- – The Fairfield County Emergency Management Agency tentatively plans a smallscale mock evacuation for Buckeye Lake Village April 25. Emergency management agency director Jon Kochis said Buckeye Lake residents will not be required to take part. “Absolutely not,” he said. Kochis said the exercise remains in the planning stages, but will likely center upon the Buckeye Lake KOA campground or the Buckeye Lake Estates trailer park. He said local residents are invited to take part if they wish, but volunteer actors from the surrounding area will pose as residents during the mock evacuation. “We have volunteers that would play the evacuation out,” Kochis said. “We want to test our ability to put resources in the area.” He described the exercise as “pretty small scale.”
Ohio Governor John Kasich announced March 19 the lake would remain at winter or low pool for at least five years as the state allocated up to $150 million to replace the 4.1-mile earthen dam. Kasich’s announcement was in response to an Army Corps of Engineers assessment that the dam had a high likelihood of failure.
Kochis said Wednesday that Fairfield County is “working little chunks” of a major evacuation plan should the dam breach. He said he would know more about the April 25 mock evacuation after speaking to state officials Thursday.
“The details are still being worked out but my understanding that this is only going to involve a small group of residents at this time,” said Buckeye Lake Mayor Clay Carroll. “I also understand that information will be distributed explaining who, when and how prior to the event.”
In an email to Buckeye lake Village Council members, Carroll said prior to the event there would be notices via local media and handouts to inform people about what’s happening. The event would last for about three hours April 25. The residents being evacuated will be transported to a Red Cross site and then returned to their homes. “This is to provide information to 911 and emergency responders information on their current plans and systems,” Carroll said in the email.
Kochis said he believes the Red Cross will visit Buckeye Lake Village April 17 to distribute smoke detectors, and the Fairfield County Emergency Management Agency would join the Red Cross that day to distribute information regarding the mock evacuation. “We’re going to team up with this,” he said.