“Everyone in the United States must be counted,” Wiggins, who is part of the local complete count committee, said. “The census data collected helps determine how more than $400 billion of federal money will be distributed.”
The census provides the statewide population count and determines the amount of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives that are apportioned for every state, and it also helps in the redistricting of state legislative districts, Wiggins said.
Information gained from the census will also determine which areas are most eligible to receive housing assistance loans, said Wiggins.
The official start date of the census is Thursday, April 1, although people received letters two weeks ago stating that they would receive 10-question census questionnaires that will take about 10 minutes to complete, Wiggins said.
From May until July 31, census takers will be canvassing homes that didn’t fill out and mail back the questionnaires, said Wiggins, who added that about 65 percent of the residents returned the questionnaires for the 2000 census.
“No one but the U.S. Census Bureau will have the information,” Wiggins said.
The more people return fill out questionnaires, the less money will be spent on canvassing homes and the better the count will be, said Wiggins. She added, however, that the Census Bureau is having trouble finding Trigg Countians who want the job of canvassing those residences.
As an aside, Wiggins also noted that last year, the 911 center fielded 53,000 calls last year, 5,400 of which were emergency calls, a number that doesn’t mention the radio traffic.
The Census Bureau started mailing the questionnaires out on Monday.
Afterward, Trigg County Emergency Management Director Randy Wade talked to the chamber about disaster preparedness and earthquakes, and mentioned that the area is close to the New Madrid Fault.
“Earthquakes are a very common occurrence … somewhere today, an earthquake will occur,” Wade said. “It may be so light that nobody can feel anything … but then again it may be so strong that it shakes houses or even destroy homes or cause deaths.”
There are about 700 earthquakes every year that are capable of causing damage in populated areas, but fortunately most earthquakes don’t occur in populated areas, said Wade.
Even though they are so common, earthquakes cannot be predicted the way thunderstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes can be predicted, Wade said.
There was more than one fairly large earthquake along the New Madrid Fault in the 1800s, Wade said.