Horry County participates in state hurricane exercise

Conway, SC - By Jennifer Grove - bio | email

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County Emergency Management is teaming up with other state agencies to participate in the 2010 South Carolina State Hurricane Exercise June 14-15.

Horry County Director of Emergency Management Randy Webster says this is first time the county has attempted a two-day exercise. He says they will be implementing lessons learned from the Horry County Wildfire during the drills.

The county's participation will include a full Emergency Operations Center activation, and cones will be placed on US-501 west of SC-544 by SCDOT to simulate lane reversal patterns. The simulation will not affect actual traffic flow.

Day 1 will focus on the actions the county will take as a hurricane is approaching the coast. Issues like evacuation decision-making, the evacuation of the coastal area and sheltering will be a part of this exercise. Day 2 will focus on post-storm response and short-term recovery activities.

South Carolina Highway Patrol spokesman Sonny Collins says while it is critical for state agencies to prepare, drivers should also get ready now for evacuations. He says there are a few key supplies everyone should pack before hitting the road, including water, gas, cash and medicine. He says it is also a good idea to have a pet plan and to pack toys to keep children occupied in the car.

The exercise will test response activities on Monday and post-storm response and short-term recovery efforts on Tuesday.

Statewide, the exercise, which will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., is designed to test lane reversal plans for Interstate 26, US-21, US-278, US-501 and SC-544 in the event of a mandatory coastal evacuation order.

No traffic lanes will actually be reversed during the exercise, and officials say it should not interfere with the flow of traffic. Intersections will not be blocked, and motorists will be allowed to move freely.

The exercise will simulate reversal operations on US-278 and US-21. The deployment of equipment and personnel will be made on these roads leading out of Hilton Head and Beaufort. SCDOT equipment will be stationed US-278 from Almenda to Hampton in Hampton County.

Law enforcement personnel and traffic control devices will be deployed on I-26 from the intersection of I-526 and I-26 in Charleston to I-77 and I-26 in Columbia.

Traffic control equipment and personnel will be stationed on US-501 beginning at SC-544 and ending at US-378 as well as between SC-22 and the Marion By-Pass.

Aerial units from SLED, the Civil Air Patrol, South Carolina National Guard and the South Carolina Forestry Commission will be flying assigned aerial surveillance routes. SCDOT will also deploy Incident Response Vehicles.

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