By Max Hrenda
Andrew Worley had seven years of experience in emergency management before taking over as Carter County’s emergency management director.
Nevertheless, when he assumed that role in 2010, the first thing he did when he first arrived at his office was redecorate.
“When I first got here, there were a bunch of things that said, ‘It’s better to have us and not need us, than to need us and not have us,’” Worley said. “That’s a slogan that’s commonly used in emergency management. I ripped it down. I hate that slogan.”
Worley said his problem with the slogan is that his office is always needed, even when there is no emergency to manage.
“That phrase leads people to believe they don’t need us all the time,” Worley said. “It takes planning, exercises, and training every single day to be ready for a disaster. There’s not been a day I’ve been in here when we were not slammed busy.”
Even though Worley’s career began working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency addressing disasters like Hurricanes Isabelle or Katrina, he contends his work in Carter County keeps him much busier than any of his prior work.
“This is way harder than I thought it was going to be,” Worley said. “With FEMA, the part I was involved in was recovery from a disaster. Now I have to learn the planning, mitigation, and response parts, which I have less experience in.”
Worley added that adjusting to a county budget, as opposed to a federal one, has provided its own challenge, as well.
“When you’re working with federal, you have an unlimited budget, it appears,” Worley said. “Instead of this unlimited budget, now I have to make every penny stretch.”