CEMA, GEMA unveil new Coastal Evacuation Transportation Option - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

CEMA, GEMA unveil new Coastal Evacuation Transportation Option

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We're one month away from the official start of hurricane season, so it's not a bad time to dust off your evacuation plan.

One man's work to keep us safe paid off in a big way on Wednesday. Chatham and Georgia Emergency Management Agencies unveiled a brand new plan of action.

It's called the Coastal Evacuation Transportation Option. Right now care facilities have transportation plans, but they are relying on the same bus and trolley companies to help evacuate their people.

They pay year round, kind of like insurance premiums, to make sure they secure the rides when they need them, which can be costly.

Clayton Scott, the director of CEMA, said, "It's just so important that we have this program now."

Scott has been working toward, and begging for, this plan for more than a decade.

"Bellyached and whined and sniveled and cried to the state over and over and over again for 15 years and said, ‘we gotta have this help', and finally they said, ‘I think they need this help,'"  he said.

This new state program will provide guaranteed transportation resources at no cost to facilities. They only pay when they are actually needed.

Anita Thompson is the administrator at Westview Nursing and Rehab in Port Wentworth.  She had a lot of questions about the plan, but she said they need all the help they can get. 

"It's nice to know that there's someone out there to back us up," she said. "I am excited about it."

Thompson works in healthcare here now, but she was in middle Georgia in 1999 when Hurricane Floyd sent everyone from the coast inland.

"There were a lot of disasters, sad things that happened because of not having available transportation," she said. "People got stuck on the interstate for 25, 26 hours with nursing home residents and ran out of water, that sort of thing. Just really hit us in the face, and we began to understand we really had to get it together."

The care facilities have thirty days from now, the start of hurricane season, to sign up for the state help.

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