Governor, state officials prep for hurricane season

McMaster Presser.jpg

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division hosted its annual Governor's Hurricane Tabletop Exercise Friday morning at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. This is the annual event where state agency chiefs and emergency management officials brief the state's disaster plans to the Governor and his staff.

Today's event marks Governor Henry McMaster's first exercise in his new role. Key topics focused on the preparedness, response and recovery phases of a disaster. In a press conference following the event, McMaster and emergency officials placed key emphasis on messaging and information dissemination going into the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

"There were no systemic failures identified during the flood or the hurricane, but there are areas we need to work on," said South Carolina Emergency Management Division Director Kim Stenson. "A focus on messaging. A large number of people did not evacuate for Hurricane Matthew and we're going to have to improve messaging and convince people that this is a life safety operation."

Officials also discussed re-entry issues immediately following Hurricane Matthew. Adjutant General Robert Livingston emphasized that the public should receive important life safety messages from trusted sources like the Governor, state officials and county emergency management.

"The next disaster is not the same as the previous disaster," said Livingston. "So we all have to maintain the flexibility South Carolinians are always known for. It is really the people of South Carolina that make us successful. The attentiveness of South Carolina to what the Governor asks you to do is so key. So we ask you for that cooperation."

Former Governor Nikki Haley oversaw four federally declared disasters in the last three years. McMaster noted that he will rely on the experience of those who worked during those disasters.

"This was an exercise to prepare for the next disaster whether it be a hurricane, flood or another kind of storm.," said McMaster. "And I'm happy to report that we are prepared."

The official start to the Atlantic Hurricane Season is June 1. In 2016, Four tropical cyclones impacted South Carolina: Bonnie, Colin, Hermine and Matthew.

Stenson directed the public to SCEMD's annual Hurricane Guide. The guide is available at SCEMD's website. It will be available in select newspapers May 26 and statewide at Walgreens.

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