Horry County leaders still learning lessons from Hurricane Matthew

Horry County leaders still learning lessons from Hurricane Matthew

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County is still learning from Hurricane Matthew and leaders have said we are still dealing with the aftermath of the storm. When it's over, the county will update its after-action report.

Plans to keep you safe and informed - that's what Horry County leaders want. However, now it's a desperate race against the clock to get people out of their homes who are still being affected by the flooding.

The reports list is still being made because our community is still being affected by the hurricane. Horry County leaders have been putting plans in place for years but they continue to update those plans as time goes by and situations happen.

Hurricane Matthew was a big event, so leaders said it's going to take time. County leaders said a lot of work takes place behind the scenes - more  than people realize.

Coordination efforts went in place to make sure emergency purposes or outside resources were brought in as fast as needed. Although most of those resources were necessary, many needed to be permanent.

They also had to keep constant contact with the different volunteer programs to see how well they could get needs and resources out to the public - all this while maintaining relationships with state and federal agencies. Leaders said doing so makes things run smoother.

"We look at all facets, all departments that were involved and all the outside resources that were brought in. We looked at things that went very well, things that could've been improved on. And looked at resources that we have - are there other things that we need to purchase to be better prepared in the future?" said Horry County Spokesperson Lisa Bourcier.

Currently, the Horry County Emergency Management team is planning full-scale exercises and training in order to learn what to do before, during and after situations like Hurricane Matthew. Coming up soon, a mix of all county Leaders will go to a Fire Academy to do an actual hurricane simulation.

Local officials haven't determined a final number for costs of damages for homes and infrastructure around the county. But while the after-action list is still being made, they were able to speak on things that did happen in their favor. Before the hurricane hit, they were able to hold a press conference with county leaders explaining to the public the dangers of the storm.

After, they had road closure information as well as information on where to put debris for pick-up. But two concerns are consistent - drainage and people who experienced flooding not being in flood zones. But county leaders say everything that happened, whether or good or bad, are lessons learned.

"A lot of times you're put in situations that you've never been put in before and you learn a lot from it. One of the big things we learned from the wildfires back in 2009, was we need a phone bank, we needed a number where people could call and actually talk to someone 24/7 and get information," Bourcier said.

That phone bank is something leaders say was one of the most important things used during the hurricane. They received around 8,000 calls and were able to constantly answer questions from the public. The phone line is still active today due to people still seeing Matthew's after-effects.

County leaders are expecting the report to be completed sometime in 2017. Once an after-action report draft is put in place, it's then submitted to public safety for review. Then, it's passed on to full council.

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