Georgetown County to participate in hurricane preparedness exercise


GEORGETOWN COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Georgetown County government will mark the start of the 2014 hurricane season by participating in a large-scale preparedness exercise during the first week of June.

The exercise is part of a statewide drill organized by the SC Emergency Management Division, and Georgetown County will play a key role. County residents should expect to see unusual activities in the area that day, including the presence of military aircraft.

This training will assist the coordination efforts of federal, state, regional and local emergency response capabilities needed to save lives and protect the public and their property prior to and following a hurricane.

A mobile emergency operations center will be set up at the Georgetown County Airport, which will also be hard hit by the hypothetical storm. The SC Air National Guard will offer assistance by bringing in resources to support mobile communications and setting up a mobile air traffic control center.

The scenario is also expected to include a chemical spill just outside Georgetown, giving emergency responders a chance to test hazmat skills. 3V, Inc., a chemical company, will team up with the county for this portion of the exercise.

The exercise begins just one day after the start of the Atlantic hurricane season on June 1. In addition to offering valuable training for emergency responders and other county officials, Sam Hodge, the county's emergency manager, said he hopes the drill will also raise public awareness and motivate residents to make their own emergency plans.

"It's never too early to start getting ready, but it can easily be too late," Hodge said. "The last thing you want to do is wait until a storm is barreling toward our coastline to start thinking about things like what to do with pets during an evacuation or whether your home insurance policy will cover what you need it to if we're hit by a hurricane."

"There's no avoiding that sort of threat on the coast, so the best thing to do is be as prepared as possible," Hodge added.

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