MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – One year ago, Hurricane Joaquin brushed the East Coast, bringing tropical moisture that contributed to the historic flooding conditions around the state and in the Grand Strand.
The Horry County Emergency Management Department released an after-action report and improvement plan that details the impact, response, damage and plans for improvement in dealing with the next flooding event. View that full report below.
Local officials determined 334 homes had incurred an estimated $9,683,724 in damage, according to the report. The flooding also significantly impacted the county's infrastructure, including bridges, roads, storm drains, culverts and county-owned beaches.
Among the observations and recommendations for improvement in the report are:
-Hold press conferences at the emergency operations center to have more coordination with EOC personnel.
-Have a sheriff's deputy provide security at the EOC
-More trained Horry County personnel could be temporarily assigned to the emergency management division during activation of the EOC
-Fire rescue organizations were not prepared from an equipment standpoint, "lacking boats capable of assisting residents evacuating from flooded neighborhoods," the report states. Small boats were procured for similar events in the future.
-The housing growth since the last record flood in 1999 "presented challenges in areas previously unaffected."
-It was difficult to relay road closure information to residents; there was duplication of efforts to relay road closure info; and the Horry County GIS map may have been inaccurate at times.
-Having a vehicle that can traverse any water conditions is essential in getting key law enforcement personnel in and out of the EOC and rescuing multiple people stranded in the flood waters.
-There needs to be a better plan of action for the damage assessment teams (DATs)
-The EMD wants to develop an interactive map for the iPad, where first responders could report impassable roads that could be used to create damage assessment routes.
-The biggest issue for the information technology support was maintaining road closure data due to duplication and edits.
The report includes dozens of other observations and suggestions for improvement. See the full report below.
"We learn every year from every event to make this a better county," Horry County Spokesperson Lisa Bourcier said.
She said the county put together mapping software while response to the storm was still going on to map out road closures, but she said improvements have been made over the past year to clearly define who is closing a road, who is opening it and who is putting that information into the computer program to get it out to the public.
"That was, I think, frustrating for not only public safety personnel, but for the public as well," Bourcier said. "It was very important during the process that we come away from that with a better system."
Bourcier added the county plans to also include debris cleanup so the public can actually find out work is being done as it is going on. She said the system will be able to be used whenever it is necessary next.
She said drainage issues continue to be addressed.
"Some of it just didn't recede as fast as it should have, so those are some issues we're still looking into," she said.
Bourcier also said the flooding of October 2015 tested emergency operations in a way that a hurricane wouldn't because it was less predictable.
"Flash-flooding issues or even wildfires, they move and they change almost by an hour-to-hour basis," she said.
Bourcier added if people are prepared for one disaster, they will be better prepared for all of them.
She said the October floods should encourage people to look at getting flood insurance even if they aren't in flood zones.