Georgetown County practices disaster response drop

By Ava Wilhite

GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WCIV) The Lowcountry is only three days into hurricane season expected to be slow, but officials in Georgetown County say that's no reason to not be prepared.

That's why they worked with the South Carolina Air National Guard to stage a preparedness drill that takes place five days after a major hurricane.

In the scenario, thousands are without power, a scary situation for 61,000 people in Georgetown County. They need help, and that's where the Guard comes in.

During a real natural disaster a C-130 would be dropping medical supplies and water to South Carolina Air National Guard members on the ground.

"With any type of natural disaster there's going to be a bunch of people coming in and out ferrying supplies in, evacuees going out from the affected areas, so we will need staging areas," said Capt. Christopher Spotts.

Spotts says setting up a mobile air traffic tower is a common request they receive after large natural disaster.

"It's a big responsibility we have and a tough job being an air traffic controller. It's something that requires a lot of training and so it's something that we constantly have to practice," said Spotts.

Spotts says the practice drill with civilian departments is also invaluable to their training missions.

"It only takes that one storm to affect Georgetown County and so we need to be prepared this year like every other year," said Georgetown County Emergency Management Director Sam Hodge.

He says the predictions for a slow hurricane season concerns him.

"People think they don't need to be prepared," he said.

This particular drill is modeled after the days following Hurricane Hugo.

"A lot of lessons were learned from Hurricane Hugo. It has definitely helped us revise our plans and we try to test them at least annually. This year we're gone a little bit beyond and brought in some of our federal assets and our state assets," said Hodge.

The practice drill is expected to last through Friday.

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