As Hurricane Matthew quickly approaches the U.S., communities across the eastern seaboard begin to prepare for what could be the largest storm we have seen in a decade. The likely results could include power outages, dangerous flooding, damaging winds, homes lost, and citizens displaced.
To drill down on how to prepare your community for Hurricane Matthew, I reached out to Eric DeMoura, Town Administrator of Mount Pleasant, SC, to share how he's quickly getting his community ready for the storm. He noted in our brief interview that there is a lot of preparation underway but here's a summary of how Mount Pleasant groups their response:
1. I remind employees that we are a part of a higher calling of service to our citizens.
Our citizens are counting on us especially in an emergency. We will work as long as it takes to protect our citizens’ lives and property. I make it clear that for those employees that are allowed to evacuate that they must return back after the storm or they are subject to termination.
2. We plan for one step greater than the likely impact.
In other words, a Category 2 hurricane is expected so we prepare for a Category 3 storm which may bring heavy wind, flooding, heavy tree damage, loss of electricity, structure damage and potential loss of life.
3. We separate our preparation and planning into three categories.
They are before, during, and after the storm.
4. The Town positions manpower, vehicles, and equipment strategically around town.
We spend a lot of resources on the support and protection of the aforementioned. This includes shelter, food, and fuel. Each strategic area operates its own NIMS incident command structure. The MEOC provides a broad organizational response, monitoring, and support of each incident command. It also controls communication internally and externally to other agencies and to the public.
5. During an intense storm, we hold in place and do not perform any emergency operations.
6. After the storm, we conduct structure assessments, rescues, and clean up.
The clearing of roadways to support emergency vehicles and the opening of critical facilities like hospitals are a priority. We also have flooded the town with police officers to protect citizens and property from looters and other criminals. We establish Points of Distribution (POD’s) around town to distribute MRE’s and water to citizens and we open shelters for those who have lost their homes. We also open building permitting locations so property owners can begin repairs on their homes.
7. We keep our elected body informed throughout the storm and they are ready to participate in a special council meeting to pass any critical ordinances that the storm has required.
Related Resources on hurricane preparedness: