Chatham Co. leaders meet to continue hurricane preparedness discussions

Published: Jul. 21, 2023 at 10:46 AM EDT
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CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Emergency managers, police and other leaders met Thursday in Chatham County making sure they’re all on the same page before a storm strikes.

Tropical storms are far from predictable. This conference was really all about getting county leaders in one place to ask questions and become as prepared as possible.

As we get deeper into hurricane season, having a plan is essential, not just for residents, but for those in charge of keeping us safe.

“How these departments are prepared, and how they are going to react to certain things that come up during periods where we are moving people. How are they handling the evacuation assembly areas, are they keeping track of their own records, are they keeping track of their own employees,” Chatham Emergency Management Agency Director Dennis Jones said.

According to Jones, there are four steps to hurricane prep when it comes to county government operations: Readiness, movement, during and after.

Once a storm has made it through, as residents are eager to get back to normal often, they are returning to power outages and storm damage, but they aren’t alone, those in charge are also left in the dark.

“We can come together and talk about what each of these departments are doing during hurricane operation conditions, so we can find out any gaps,” Jones said.

Each stage is addressed so that during evacuations, the county will still be able to operate, just in an adaptive state.

“In 2015, we brought all county departments together to talk about how you would react. So, the lessons learned during that exercise were actually implemented for Hurricane Matthew,” Jones said.

Having an adaptive government in times of emergency is essential for things like county-run evacuation services. Without operations like the departments that met Thursday, evacuations may not be possible.