Chatham Emergency Management Agency preparing for hurricane season

Published: May. 5, 2023 at 11:32 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Chatham Emergency Management Agency does a lot to prepare for hurricane season. From an annual conference with other agencies to evacuation routes - they have it all planned out.

The Atlantic hurricane season may only take up part of the year, but it’s a time that CEMA prepares for around the clock.

“We prep for hurricane season year round,” CEMA director Dennis Jones said.

Jones says deciding how crews respond during a storm threat is always changing.

“We try to do that decision making based on what the best methodologies are for ensuring an evacuation or ensuring a shelter-in-place event,” Jones said.

The agency works hard during hurricane season, using their emergency operations center to monitor storm response.

They urge those who live in the county to not panic but be prepared.

“Understand what your flooding potential could be because with a hurricane that is the biggest threat is the flooding,” Jones said.

Jones says the best way to get ready is to have a disaster preparedness kit so it’s ready to go if a storm does hit.

Once the season is over, Jones says the agency reviews their response to be better prepared in the future.

“Making sure that we get feedback from them on what worked well, what can be improved upon, and how we can go about ensuring that response is just a little bit better next time,” Jones said.

That feedback comes from the agency’s annual hurricane conference where they learn from the experiences of partner agencies from Florida and Texas.

“We’re taking a look at that and seeing what they experienced and what we could potentially experience - how they reacted to that, how they resolved that, and how we can implement that here for Chatham County,” Jones said.

But Jones cautions that no two hurricanes are the same. The best way to stay ahead of the storms is to pay attention to forecasts and alerts.

“Every storm is different. It doesn’t matter if you have the perfect plan on the table. The perfect plan’s not necessarily perfect for every single event,” Jones said.

The agency working to make sure crews and people at home are weather ready.