Hurricane exercise to test readiness for recovery from hurricane

SANTEE, SC (WCSC) - Emergency management officials from several counties, including the Tri County area met here Wednesday for an exercise on how to help communities recover after a hurricane hits.

The regional disaster preparedness exercise was held as the peak of the hurricane season approaches.

"It's not an overnight operation, and it will take years literally in some cases to repair the infrastructure and to get people back in their homes," said Kim Stenson, director of the South Carolina Emergency Management Division.

"Recovery is always going to be the biggest, long term, depending on how bad things have got," said Cathy Haynes,  Charleston County's Emergency Management Division Chief of Operations.

Anyone who was here during Hurricane Hugo will remember how long it took to recover.

The same can be said for folks who survived Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

In both cases, the communities had one thing in common when it came to putting things back together.

"We know we have to do it all together. No one county can do it all by themselves," Haynes explained.

After an actual hurricane, it will be the job of the local and state emergency management officials to figure out to help out whoever needs it the most.

"They're gonna be tapped out in terms of resources capability, and that's when they request assistance from us," said Stenson.

"It's a two way street. We're talking to them. They're talking to us. We're passing on what help we need because we just don't have it in our county," explained Haynes.

With the peak of the hurricane season almost here, officials say it's a perfect time to practice and work on any potential communication problems that may come up after a hurricane strike.

"We could start working on it now. We need to fix it before it actually happens," said Haynes.

The exercise in Santee is one of three being held across the state.

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