County practices hurricane prep

  • Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Leslie Cantu/Journal Scene - Workers from EMS, fire, Public Works, planning and more gathered in the County Council chambers in St. George for Wednesday’s hurricane planning exercise. -

Dorchester County participated in an annual hurricane exercise Wednesday coordinated by the S.C. Emergency Management Division.
Staffers gathered in County Council chambers in St. George, the county’s alternate emergency operations center.
Its primary emergency operations center is just outside Summerville. This was the first time practicing in the alternate center, said Mario Formisano, director of Dorchester County Emergency Management.
Formisano said the various departments were running through how they would prepare for an incoming hurricane.
Public Works, for example, would coordinate the pre-positioning of debris pick-up contractors, the water and sewer department would check all pump stations and law enforcement would monitor the progress of the evacuation.
Dorchester County has four evacuation zones, Formisano said.
He said people should pay attention to evacuation orders and obey them.
Some property owners think they’re on high ground and want to stay put – and they might be right about their own property, but could find themselves isolated by flooding, Formisano said.
Inland flooding is a concern for many areas of Dorchester County, he said, and it doesn’t necessarily correlate with the hurricane category level.
“We can’t get caught up in ‘It’s only a tropical storm or it’s only a category one,’” he said.
The storm surge models don’t account for local conditions on the ground, he said, like a wet spring that’s left the ground saturated or a storm that just sits and dumps rain on the area.
Those conditions could lead to “significant inland flooding,” he said, and “the water might not recede like you think it will.”
Formisano recommended people prepare hurricane kits so their families can survive for 72 hours on their own, have a family plan for what to do, stay informed, and get involved in county preparations, such as by training to be part of a Community Emergency Response Team.
The county emergency management department is co-hosting a hurricane preparation expo 9 a.m. to noon July 27 at the Lowe’s on Dorchester Road.
To check your evacuation zone, go to http://www.dorchestercounty.net/index.aspx?page=213 .

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