DHEC Joins Team South Carolina to Prepare & Respond to Hurricane Ian

Sept. 26 – Oct. 1, 2022

DHEC Director Dr. Edward Simmer joins South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster and other state emergency officials on Sept. 30, 2022, to provide an update on Hurricane Ian.

Before Hurricane Ian ever made landfall in South Carolina, DHEC’s team of dedicated employees began to prepare for the storm’s anticipated impact.

Tropical Storm Ian first formed in the central Caribbean on Sept. 23, 2022, and strengthened into a hurricane on Sept. 26, 2022. On Sept. 28, Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida as a Category 4 storm after plowing through the Caribbean, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and western Cuba. Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm on Sept. 29 as it tracked inland, crossing over the Florida peninsula. After entering the Atlantic Ocean, Tropical Storm Ian strengthened back into a Category 1 hurricane on Sept. 30 before making landfall near Georgetown, SC, just after 2 p.m.

Ian was the first landfall of a hurricane that South Carolina had seen in nearly six years and brought heavy rain, high winds, and flooding along our state’s coastline. From pre-storm evacuation support to post-storm damage assessments and cleanup, the DHEC team was fully engaged during Team South Carolina’s response efforts.

While the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) is the lead agency in the state during a weather emergency, DHEC assists with pre-storm healthcare facility evacuation support, dam assessment, post-storm damage assessments and cleanup.

DHEC is also part of the South Carolina Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) before, during and after emergencies, supporting a comprehensive emergency response.

DHEC’s Emergency Prepardness teams work diligently to prepare for and respond to Hurricane Ian at DHEC’s Agency Coordination Center.

The SEOC and DHEC both partially activated Monday, Sept. 26, assigning select staff to work out of each location to prepare for the storm. DHEC staff began full activation for Hurricane Ian on Thursday, Sept. 29, and the SEOC fully activated on Friday, Sept. 30. Activities included county calls and executive calls occurring during these days to keep everyone informed of the latest details and storm updates. The first County and SERT call and Governor’s Executive Call were on Sunday, Sept. 25.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the work that DHEC staff performed during the Hurricane Ian response.

Before and during the storm Team DHEC:

  • Remained in contact with all 480 licensed healthcare facilities throughout the storm, including our 42 nursing homes and 126 assisted-living facilities with a combined 11,151 beds in coastal counties.
  • Stood on standby to assist EMS facilities in meeting any critical needs.
  • Conducted 41 pre-storm dam assessments across the state on dams of concern, with no significant issues identified.
  • Opened our Care Line, 1-855-4SC-DHEC (1-855-472-3432) 24/7, and staffed our Shelter Triage Line to answer questions about our health departments’ services and Medical Needs Shelters.
  • Had staff and supplies positioned for activation had shelters requested any needs.
  • Monitored the operational status of more than 560 drinking water and 320 wastewater systems to help protect the safety of our residents drinking water.
  • Updated emergency orders to allow property owners along the immediate beachfront in Horry and Georgetown counties to temporarily protect beachfront structures and remove debris in all coastal counties and continue to work with our local coastal partners.

Agency response staff were able to do accomplish this work with the confidence in knowing that other staff were ready and able to take on extra duties to ensure our day-to-day operations remained intact.

Following the storm, members of our Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management’s damage-assessment teams were deployed to evaluate damage to any beachfront erosion control structures (seawalls, revetments), dune walkovers, pools, and habitable structures within the state’s beachfront jurisdiction. DHEC also continued to work with our local and national partners to prioritize damage assessments.

While our coastal communities received the highest-level of damage from the storm, others across the state also saw minor impacts. Thankfully, there are currently no storm-related deaths reported. Hurricane Ian serves as an important reminder of why DHEC and others continuously practice and prepare for events like these. To learn more about the work that DHEC does during emergency storm response, please watch our video series here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s