Story by Maj. Jamie Delk
One storm can change the lives of so many. For citizens of South Carolina, “Hurricane Season” has real meaning. Because of the heightened potential for destructive storms from June 1st through the end of November, South Carolina response agencies know that preparedness is key
With those dates quickly approaching, residents are encouraged to take part in Hurricane Preparedness Week May 15-21. Response agencies, and citizens alike, must learn what they can do to prepare for a possible storm or hurricane.
“As we plan and look ahead to the 2016 Hurricane Season, it is the spirit of being South Carolinians and our relationships in communities, as demonstrated during Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and the recent state-wide flood that are so critical to readiness and supporting our citizens,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, Jr., the adjutant general of South Carolina.
On September 21, 1989, hurricane warnings were issued for coastal South Carolina, leading to more than 250,000 people evacuating the coast. At midnight on September 22, 1989, the eye of Hurricane Hugo made its final landfall at Sullivan’s Island near Charleston.
“It is about getting the messaging out in a timely manner, using Intel analysis to get resources projected early in the places needed, and continuing to conduct exercises with our first responders that are key to our response efforts,” added Livingston.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley recently met with the state’s top emergency management officials as preparation for the upcoming hurricane season is underway. Her recent exercise focused on shelter issues and evacuations, as well as problems that arise after a storm.
“Annually we go through our Hurricane Tabletop Exercise with all of our agency directors and partners to prepare and improve on how we handle natural disasters,” said Haley.
Leaders of the South Carolina Emergency Management Division as well as the South Carolina National Guard, other federal and state agency directors, local officials and emergency responders ran through evacuation procedures and other common issues before, during and after a major storm. Lessons learned from October’s historic floods were also part of the discussion.
After the treacherous flood that South Carolina experienced in 2015, it should be ever prevalent in citizen’s minds to be ready for what may happen.
“We are focused on family plans and ensuring that residents have a plan in place well before a storm becomes a possibility,” said Derrec Becker, South Carolina Emergency Management Division Public Information Officer. “Everyone should have a disaster response kit ready with the tools to be able to sustain yourself.”
“If you live on the coast please take time to develop a family plan. Know your zone which provides you your evacuation route, put all important papers in a safe place and have an emergency kit,” added Haley.
“Governor Haley and Team South Carolina will be ready for the 2016 Hurricane season, but as with all events and with any loss of life, such as the 19 citizens tragically lost during the flood last October, we must always do more and constantly seek ways to improve,” said Livingston.