It has been at least two and a half years since Horry County experienced horrendous flooding and, since that time, local authorities have been doing everything they can to help the community prepare for the next weather disaster.
The Horry County Emergency Management, located in downtown Conway, works with local police and fire departments as well as local media outlets such as WPDE and the Sun News, to reach the people of Horry County and help them prepare for the next weather disaster.
Brooke Holden, Communications Specialist at Horry County Emergency Management, talked about who is involved when a weather-related emergency is approaching the county.
“Several organizations will convene in our Emergency Operations Center,” said Holden. “We have crews from all different local and county municipality agencies that come here when an emergency is happening or when we feel that there is a threat to our community. Firefighters, police officers and even non-profit organizations like American Red Cross, Catholic Charities and Impact Ministries, those men and women representatives are here. We also have the counties procurement department come here. Every local and county municipality agency and non-profit organization that plays a role in bettering the community and saving lives comes here.”
Why are there so many organizations and departments represented? Holden was able to go into more detail as why there are so many organizations involved in emergency management.
“It is because of that human one-on-one interaction is why we have so many representatives here,” said Holden. “While we have Facebook, Twitter and various social media outlets, our Emergency Operations Center is the one room, the one place, where we can find out what is going on almost immediately because all of those agencies and organizations are here.”
For the most part, the Emergency Operations Center remains vacant. However, the room’s cell service capacity, WiFi servers and landline services remain intact and operational for when there is an emergency activation.
“Essentially, we are talking about a hurricane or any type of natural disaster or threat,” said Holden. “We do use this room as a training facility as well. In addition to different trainings and exercises we hold throughout the year, this room is also used for different county department heads.”
The Horry County Emergency Management office is one of four departments located in the same building in downtown Conway.
Holden talked about the benefits of having different departments that play a vital role in community safety all under one roof.
“The Emergency Management office is located in the public safety building here in Conway,” said Holden. “We have four major departments in this building. There is the police department, fire and rescue, emergency management and the communications department. Not to mention, the coroner’s office behind the building. It is very well designed and helps us tremendously whenever we have an emergency activation.”
Horry County was lucky to not be hit with either of the three major hurricanes that ripped through the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. However, in three months’ time it is going to be hurricane season, and Holden wants members of the community to already start preparing for the first hurricane of the season.
“It is imperative that residents and the public understand the impacts of these types of storms,” said Holden. “We work to prepare our community, our county and the public for situations like this. However, it is also wise for residents to understand that the government can’t do it all, and so we have to make sure that people are prepared and are ready to be self-sufficient should an emergency situation happen.”
Proper Hurricane Preparedness kits should include at least one gallon of water per person, food to last at least three to seven days, flashlight/batteries, proper clothing such as raincoats and sturdy shoes, blankets and pillows, as well as First Aid Kit.
You can find out more about severe weather preparedness at www.horrycouty.org.