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Preparing for hurricane season is a months-long process

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 2:30 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1.

Preparing for the season is a months-long process for the leaders of the Chatham Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) and its partners. But it’s a process that makes sure you and your families are safely evacuated if need be, and that life returns to normal as quickly and safely as possible in a hurricane event.

Dennis Jones has been director of CEMA for a little over three years. He’s the guy front and center giving guidance to county residents if a hurricane is barreling toward the coast and threatening our area.

“There’s a lot of stress, obviously. But with any good decision making comes a good team that comes together to make that decision,” Jones said.

Since February, Jones and his team at CEMA have been coordinating with area agencies that help in the evacuation process or any other areas of decision making, finalizing those plans and relationships in May.

“The previous support that we’ve had in previous years, those people are still dedicated to supporting our community,” he said.

Jones said his agency also pays attention to the hurricane season forecasts, but whether a below or above-average season, he points out it only takes one storm to significantly impact Chatham County.

“We’ve seen very, very large storms do very, very little damage. We’ve seen very, very small storms do quite a bit of damage across the country,” Jones said.

Last year, hurricane season preps introduced a new list of challenges, with emergency management leaders having to take into consideration COVID-related threats. Shelter space needed to expand, as well as transportation for evacuations to keep families socially distant.

“Those conditions are still in place for this year. While we do see a trend of COVID getting less of a threat for not only our community but across the nation, it still is there, it still is something that we must plan for,” Jones said.

Ultimately, Jones says he believes CEMA, the county and all partner agencies within are ready for this hurricane season and whatever it brings.

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