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Level descriptions

Emergency Preparedness

Contact Information, Office Hours, Functions, Department Responsibilities
FAQ's, Common Terms, History, Interesting Facts



Multi-Hazards Planning
Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery
Mitigation Operations

The Emergency Preparedness Division (EPD) provides leadership and assistance to reduce the loss of life and property in Charleston County from a variety of man-made and natural hazards through an effective emergency management program.

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This Division Does

dot Plan for the effects of man-made and natural disasters
dot  Act as the primary emergency planner and facilitator for local governments, volunteer organizations and citizens
dot  Serve as a clearinghouse for up-to-date information to assist agencies and individuals with emergency planning
dot  Coordinate the Local Emergency Planning Committee for hazardous materials planning, emergency response and annual exercises
dot  Review the emergency plans for nursing homes and residential care facilities as required by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control
dot  Orchestrate various drills and exercises to test planning and response process
dot  Operate and maintain the County's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) during disasters
dot  Serve on numerous federal and state committees and task forces regarding hurricanes, urban search and rescue, earthquakes and special needs sheltering
dot  Provide Federal Emergency Management Agency home study, college credit courses on various emergency management topics, at no charge

This Division Does Not

dot  Operate emergency shelters
dot  Assist with emergency payment of home utility bills
dot  Maintain flood insurance rate maps (See Planning )
dot  Check homes for Radon or other hazardous materials
dot  Write emergency plans for businesses. However, EPD will review them on a case-by-case basis
dot  Manage EMS or answer questions about their billing (See Emergency Medical Service )

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: During a hurricane, how far should I evacuate?
A: Although we do not provide specific distances, EPD generally suggests a westward inland evacuation over 150 miles or whatever distance with which a person feels comfortable.
Q: I live in a mobile home with tie-downs, do I still need to evacuate in a storm?
A: Yes, most tie-downs will only keep the floor partially secured to the ground. The walls and roof may still blow away.
Q: Where is the earthquake fault in our area? When will we see another major earthquake?
A: Several faults run through the Lowcountry, many miles beneath the surface. Their exact locations are not known. Experts cannot predict when the next major earthquake will occur, but many feel it could happen at any time. Each year, South Carolina has 10-15 small earthquakes which may relieve pressure in the Earth's crust or which might be a precursor to a much larger earthquake. Experts estimate that today, an earthquake comparable in magnitude to that of the 1886 earthquake would kill 500 to 2,000 people and injure thousands of others.

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Common Terms

Hazard Mitigation-- Techniques used, or actions taken, to reduce the loss of life and property due to all types of hazards (e.g., legislation reducing construction on barrier islands, flood insurance maps, building code enforcement and emergency planning).

Multi-Hazards Planning-- Preparations designed for response to and recovery after natural disasters or man-made, technological disasters.

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In May 1956, newspaper clippings referred to the Charleston County Civil Defense Council, the predecessor of EPD. In 1960, County Council created the Civil Defense Advisory Council to guide the Director of Civil Defense on personnel selection, appropriations and policy issues. The department existed under various titles prior to July 5, 1983, when County Council officially created the County's Emergency Preparedness Division. On June 20, 1987, the renewed agency got its first real field exposure when lightning started a fire of an 80 million gallon fuel tank at the Hess Terminal. EPD was once again designated as a separate department in 1990, after Hurricane Hugo.

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Interesting Facts

dot  The Local Emergency Planning Committee meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 9:30 a.m. Meetings are open to the public.
dot  Since its creation, EPD responded to more than 70 large incidents, including:

September 21, 1989

Hurricane Hugo operations, evacuation and recovery
September 9, 1990 Repatriation of American hostages from Baghdad, Operation Desert Shield
June 17, 1991 Albright and Wilson plant explosion
June 28, 1991 Jetliner emergency, 114 passengers with medical emergency from gas fumes
December 11, 1992 Train accident, overturned chemical tank cars
March 3, 1995 Plane crash, Highway 17 North
April 17, 1995 Earthquake, 3.7 Richter scale, considerable damage to schools in Dorchester County
September 3, 1996 Hurricane Fran, EOC activation, evacuation
  September 13-16, 1999 Hurricane Floyd, EOC activation, Evacuation
  September 11, 2001 EOC activation in Response to WTC & Pentagon Terrorist Attack.

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Contact Information

Emergency Preparedness Division
Lonnie Hamilton, III Public Services Building
4045 Bridge View Drive
North Charleston, SC 29405
(843) 202-7400
(843) 202-7408 (Fax)

Emergency and After Hours
(843) 202-1700

Office Hours

8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

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