Outagamie County storm report fallout

APPLETON – The fallout from severe storms last August in Outagamie County may not be over.

Earlier this week, the county’s emergency management director was let go.

We dug deeper into the issues and found another person who works in the office is on leave.

County supervisors told us they believe the suspension could be related to the report on how the office handled or did not handle last year’s storms. They also believe County Executive Tom Nelson and his staff may have tried to cover up mistakes in the response.

Those supervisors say they believe Rob Olson, who has been with the department for the last 18 years, is being singled out for his report.

Supervisor Jim Duncan says he is one of them.

“Obviously they don’t like what the report says,” he said.

The report says the Emergency Management Department wasn’t properly prepared to handle the storm and the county was slow to respond.

The storm spawned six tornadoes and caused $30 million in damage.

Supervisor Tanya Rabec says the timing of Olson being put on leave raises questions.

“This is a personnel issue and we don’t have the right to know everything that is going on with a personnel issue, but the timing is very suspect and that does concern me,” Rabec said.

Olson hired an attorney and was told not to comment on camera. But he did release a statement. In it he says “Be assured an organization which can look upon itself and identify areas for improvement in a response to a large scale incident (such were the August tornadoes), and define the best method of improvements to be made is a healthy organization.”

Duncan says he believes the timing is a politically motivated move by Nelson.

“He really needs to stop measuring the drapes in the White House and his position and worry a little bit more about the safety of the citizens in Outagamie County,” said Duncan.

Nelson wasn’t available for an interview, and instead released a statement saying “…it would be inappropriate and unprofessional for a responsible public official to discuss confidential personnel matters.”

His deputy administrator Craig Moser also had little to say.

“Can you say, did the report have anything to do with his being put on paid leave?” asked FOX 11’s Chad Doran.

“Again, it’s an internal, on-going investigation and it really wouldn’t be appropriate to comment on that,” said Moser.

Duncan says the focus needs to turn to the future.

“Yes there were some recommendations in the report, yes we can follow them, end of story,” he said.

Nelson also ordered an independent investigation into the storm that was completed by Fox Valley Technical College last December.

The report found no fault with the department because it said the tornadoes from the storm couldn’t have been predicted.

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