When the tragic events unfolded on September 11, 2001, Kenneth Kaden was the mayor of Gainesville.

As people grew fearful of their safety and the possibility of price gouging, Kaden said the city became very serious about its emergency management.

“That day made us realize that the rest of the world was mighty close,” said Kaden.

The main concern for local firemen and police officers, said Kaden, was that Gainesville is located so close to Interstate 35. From I-35 it’s a straight shot to the mid-America border which caused apprehension as to who may have been trying to get in or out, added Kaden.

City Emergency Management Coordinator and Fire Chief Steve Boone described that day as a fog, filled with mass confusion.

“It just seemed like it wasn’t real,” said Boone. “It was a pretty tough and pretty sad day.”

The biggest difficulty for rescue workers was the inability to communicate with one another, said Boone. “Everyone is on a different radio frequency which caused a big problem when we were all trying to get a hold of one another.”

Since then, the city of Gainesville has received FEMA funds and federal money to update its radio and response equipment.

In 2001, Cooke County did not have an Emergency Response Plan. However, it was co-written over the next two years by former County Emergency Management Coordinator (EMC) Dee Blanton and present County EMC Ray Fletcher.

Boone, who is on the Homeland Security Advisory Council, said not only have a lot of emergency plans been updated, but he meets regularly with the Texoma Council of Government. As a result, Cooke, Grayson and Fannin counties have made mutual agreements on emergency plans and are more unified on how to respond to a disaster/emergency.

“It’s all about awareness in any type of emergency,” said Boone.

He added that soon, a new Code Red System will be available to call resident telephones and give a pre-recorded message during an emergency or disaster.

Seven years after 9/11, current mayor Glen Loch said there is no question about it, the city of Gainesville has made a tremendous difference in its emergency management.

“We’ve always been security conscious, but now I think we just think about it even more,” said Loch. “We’re a small town and to be honest, if something’s going to happen in our country, it probably won’t be here. But one never knows, of course, which is why it’s so important to be prepared.”

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