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    South Carolina emergency management is a year round effort

    South Carolina National Guard Hurricane Florence response

    Photo By Master Sgt. Caycee Watson | U.S. Airmen and Soldiers with the South Carolina National Guard, along with civilian...... read more read more

    COLUMBIA, SC, UNITED STATES

    12.08.2019

    Story by Staff Sgt. Erica Jaros 

    108th Public Affairs Detachment

    COLUMBIA, S.C. - During hurricane season, June 1 - November 30, the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) provides messages about hurricane preparedness and response to the citizens of South Carolina.  But their emergency support isn’t limited to natural disasters.

    “Trains derail, chemical facilities can spill or explode, and criminal/terrorist acts can occur,” said Kimberly McLeod, SCEMD Public Information coordinator.  “Each of these would require a local response supported by state and/or federal agencies. South Carolina also has four nuclear power facilities and two closely located in neighboring states. All South Carolina counties, except for five coastal counties - Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, and Georgetown - fall within the 10 or 50-mile emergency planning zones of at least one nuclear power plant.”

    The relatively small agency is a Division of the South Carolina Military Department under the Adjutant General and during a state of emergency, reports directly to and advises the governor.

    Planning and training are a big part of the day-to-day operations of SCEMD. Every two years, SCEMD, along with counties and the utility companies, exercises the South Carolina Operational Radiological Emergency Response Plan.

    “Training and realistic exercises strengthen the state’s response capabilities and give us the opportunity to test our emergency plans and evaluate their effectiveness,” said McLeod. “Also, by being closely linked to the National Guard, there is an opportunity to learn and cross-train with each other.”

    Part of their planning includes coordinating a Multi-Year Training and Exercise Plan to prepare the Division, local governments, and other State Emergency Response Team (SERT) members for hazards South Carolina may face.

    “SCEMD has an all-hazards approach to emergency preparedness. Most disasters require core capabilities to be performed,” said McLeod. “Basic human needs must always be met.  We can ensure we have the capability to address a broad range of emergencies while also having specific plans to address unique characteristics brought on by hurricanes or winter storms.”

    In an emergency, all operations are initiated and closed out at the local levels. Support from state agencies is provided upon request when the requirements exceed the capability of local government.

    Once the governor declares a state of emergency, the South Carolina State Police, National Guard, Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), and members of the SERT, which includes various state agencies, non-profit and private organizations who have dedicated roles in emergency operations, can be called on quickly to respond.

    “The South Carolina National Guard provides a critical manpower resource to support law enforcement, highway patrol, and other local agencies during the emergency response and recovery efforts,” said U.S. Army Capt. Jessica Donnelly, South Carolina National Guard Public Affairs director. “The National Guard also provides unique assets and capabilities such as high-water vehicles, water purification, and aerial search and rescue. Supporting the citizens of South Carolina during their time of need is a major team effort.” 

    The partnerships between government, non-profits and private-sector organizations are critical to the successful implementation of emergency response plans because they each have unique capabilities.

    “SCEMD provides an organizational structure to group agencies together by specific functions.  These different emergency support functions provide the structure for coordinating interagency support for a state response to an incident,” said McLeod. “For example, SCDOT and other agencies with transportation capabilities provide information related to transportation networks and evacuation routes. DSS coordinates shelter operations and LLR’s Division of Fire and Fire Safety provides assistance for firefighting and search and rescue operations. SCEMD is unable to provide all of these resources on our own.” 

    During an emergency SCEMD is responsible for coordinating the activities of more than 50 government and private-sector organizations to support local response and recovery efforts. Clear channels of communications are vital since each of those organizations is coordinating with their own partners.

    “DHEC works with over 100 different local, state, and federal agencies, as well as several private sector partners. We help coordinate and ensure that vital and necessary activities occur as required,” said 
    Chris Delcamp, DHEC Public Information officer. “SCEMD also coordinates the overall message to the public, which DHEC supports with our communications and public information staff, who ensure that all messaging is consistent.”

    Although hurricane season has ended, SCEMD is already preparing for the next potential event – winter storms. The annual Severe Winter Weather guide is already available on the SCEMD website.

    “Everyone in South Carolina has a part to play in that emergency response,” said McLeod.  “Are you ready?”

    To learn more about SCEMD, visit their website at www.scemd.org or sign up for one of the Citizens Academy events. The SC Emergency Manager app is also available to help citizens increase their preparedness.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 12.08.2019
    Date Posted: 12.08.2019 11:46
    Story ID: 354677
    Location: COLUMBIA, SC, US 

    Web Views: 86
    Downloads: 0
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