Hurricane Preparation in the Lowcountry

by Maddie Carter and Nathan Gergick, Mayor’s Youth Challenge Summer Interns

When it comes to hurricanes, how prepared are you and your business? At the Chamber’s Ask the Expert on Hurricane Preparedness at the Charleston County Emergency Operations Center (EOC), attendees got a glimpse into hurricane preparation at the county level and learned valuable tips from a panel of subject matter experts on how to prepare their businesses for possible hurricanes.

Built to survive and function during hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural or man-made disasters, the EOC is a 27-million-dollar facility that opened in January of 2013. The building (located 49 feet above sea level) can withstand 191 mph winds and is self-sustainable – equipped with two transformers, back-up sewage tanks, heating and cooling systems and a back-up data center. The security of the building allows the EOC to serve as the nerve center for full 911 dispatches during past and future catastrophes.

One of the main takeaways was the importance of a 3-part hurricane plan: taking into account the before, during and after stages of a storm. Leading up to landfall, businesses should make sure that there is a plan and that all employees are aware of it.  It is also important for businesses to be familiar with their zones in case of evacuation so they know how susceptible they are to the potential hurricanes and storm surges (Visit scemd.org and go to the Know Your Zone tab).  It is essential to make sure IT and other critical employees are established somewhere safe prior to landfall. This way, during the landfall, essential operations may continue. The speakers stressed that the sole purpose of having a hurricane preparation plan is to ensure quick and safe recovery. The recovery plan is often overlooked because it is can be hard to wrap our heads around the chaos that ensues after landfall. To recover quickly and safely, businesses should know how to maintain continuity and assign an assessment team. Business owners can ensure they will be able to gain access after evacuation, by securing dash passes for essential personnel.

For more information about how your business can be more prepared for hurricanes, visit the Charleston County Emergency Management Department’s website. A guide for developing your own hurricane preparation plan can be downloaded from the site. Now that hurricane season has begun, there is no better time to ensure your business is prepared for the next storm.

Interested in attending an event like this one? View our upcoming events!

This summer, as part of the 2019 Mayor’s Youth Employment Challenge, we have welcomed two local students to our team. The Challenge encourages local businesses to hire and mentor at least two youth during the summer months, providing them jobs in which they can learn, earn a reasonable wage and work at least 12 hours per week. Maddie and Nathan are spending a week in each of our departments, learning about what each one does and getting experience in that area.

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