State leaders plan how to get people home after a hurricane hits

State leaders plan how to get people home after a hurricane hits

SANTEE, SC (WCSC) - Tuesday, state and local leaders met to discuss the best way to get people home after a disaster hits.

"Exactly when people are going to come back and exactly what areas," said Kim Stenson, Director of the South Carolina Emergency Management Division

Once the governor lifts the evacuation order following a hurricane, Stenson says it is in the hands of local authorities to make decisions about when their community is safe to reopen.

"Local roads, local bridges and that sort of thing," said Stenson. "The people on the ground - the local authorities - need to make those decisions."

However, for some counties, leaders are still trying to figure out exactly who will make those calls.

"It's in place to a certain degree but what we need to do is we need to fine tune it, so everybody is absolutely sure who has the authority to evacuate at a local level," said Stenson.

"A lot has changed, obviously, since Hurricane Hugo made landfall in Charleston," said Jason Patno, Director of Charleston County Emergency Management.

Patno says for our area, with so many waterways and bridges, there's a lot that needs to be inspected before anyone can go back home.

"We have to make sure that water, sewer systems are online. Power, as well, and that roadways are clear," said Patno.

Everyone in attendance could agree on one thing: opening a community back up after a hurricane will take time.

'Be patient, it's going to take time to clear the roadways, to clear the debris and to make sure that areas are safe," said Patno.

Also discussed at the seminar was creating a "re-entry passes" for certain businesses. Stenson says banks grocery stores, and hospitals play important roles in getting disaster stricken areas back on their feet.

"Our citizens need their services back in the areas that they're going to go back into that could be, in some cases, quite devastated," said Stenson.

The passes would be issued on a state level and presented a local level to allow the employees back to work, early in the re-entry process.

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