The Indiana Department of Homeland Security has asked Putnam County officials to join them in drafting a new, statewide standard for handling winter weather emergencies following confusion during a February snow storm.
During the Valentine's Day storm that brought up to a foot of snow to parts of Putnam County, the local EMA office restricted unnecessary travel, however, drivers were permitted to travel to and from their places of employment.
But in other counties, including nearby Hendricks, travel was restricted to emergency vehicles only.
It seemed every county was using its own set of standards in assessing the snow emergency.
State Homeland Security spokeswoman Pam Bright said recently the agency was bombarded with phone calls during the storm from businesses that didn't understand the snow emergencies being declared by their respective county emergency management agencies.
"It was chaos this last snowstorm," Bright said.
The department is now asking county EMA officials, including Putnam County EMA Director Kim Hyten, to weigh in on a proposal to create a statewide standard for declaring snow emergencies.
Officials hope the new statewide standard will end the confusion.
Hyten says he plans to offer his suggestions for the plan, but he wants to make sure the Putnam County commissioners, local emergency officials and the EMA board members are in support of it as well.
When it comes to his suggestions, Hyten says he is most concerned about the EMA dictating to area businesses that they have to shut down during a snow storm because it means a loss in revenues.
"I just have a hard time telling businesses they have to shut down," he said.
The homeland security department says it plans to have the new standards in place by next winter. It may apply not only to snow emergencies, but to floods or other disasters.