Drill preps emergency workers for hurricane evacuations

Conway, SC - CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Emergency workers from across the Palmetto State met in Conway on Thursday to make sure residents and tourists will be able to get away from the coast in the event of tropical weather.

The South Carolina Highway Patrol, Air National Guard, and officials with Horry County Emergency Management walked through procedures for hurricane evacuations and traffic patrols for the upcoming hurricane season.

Colonel Pete Brooks with the South Carolina National guard says it's imperative that these organizations coordinate their plans before disaster strikes.

"It's always better to get together before we need to, so we can find out who the players are, who has what available, and who's going to do what when we have an actual emergency," explained Brooks.

With hurricane season just two months away, Eric Stanton with the Horry County Emergency Management office says its important that several plans are devised for before, during, and after a storm.

"We have completely revamped our emergency operations plan," said Stanton.  "We basically bring those agencies in and now we're able to communicate well, we're able to operate with very little issues, and we're able to handle things in a timely manner."

The South Carolina National Guard also utilized a new piece of aircraft during Thursday's training session.  A new LUH-72 helicopter was used to take first responders up in the air to get a bird's eye view of evacuation routes in Horry County.

"The aircraft is a little bit lighter, quicker, faster, and it allows us to do better assessments from the air,"explained Brooks.

The helicopter is able to stay in the air for more than three hours and it can cover of 370 miles.

On the ground, the South Carolina Highway Patrol would oversee evacuation routes and traffic patterns during an emergency.

Sgt. Don Causey says these types of training exercises help things run more smoothly when disaster strikes.

"The training is very important so that the various agencies can work together and learn from one another and put together a plan that's very effective," said Causey.

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