Local Hurricane Project wins state innovation award

Georgetown County’s hurricane project was named the first place winner of the 2010 J. Mitchell Graham Memorial Award for counties with 50,000 to 125,000 residents.

ARTICLE | Aug 16, 2010

The award is given each year by the South Carolina Association of Counties for outstanding achievements by county governments.  This is the second year Georgetown County has walked away with a prize: last year, the coveted overall award for all population areas statewide was won by a Georgetown County partnership involving the Emergency Services Training Division, the school district and the Boy Scouts that created a pioneering Firefighting Training Program for teens at Andrews High School.

                “We are so excited!” said Hurricane Project Manager Heather Pelham. “The South Carolina Association of Counties looks for projects that are innovative, beneficial, even extremely difficult to pull off. The Hurricane Project is all those things, and it never would have worked if so many county residents hadn’t been interested and willing to lend a hand.”

                The Hurricane Project is a joint effort of the Georgetown County Library and the Emergency Management Division, and is paid for with a grant from the International City/County Management Association. Since its inception last summer, the project has put on hurricane safety workshops, produced public service announcements starring local kids, and shot 150 interviews with folks who survived Hurricanes Hugo and Hazel. The project also collects historic hurricane photographs and adds them to the county’s online digital library, which you can visit at www.gcdigital.org.  The project also offers Disaster Nights for kids, in which participants use an online game to design an indestructible town, then hit it with a natural disaster. There are also web 2.0 workshops for county employees, to help them get the word out about disasters – or other county news – at the blink of an eye.

                And the project isn’t done yet – up next is a glittering premiere for a hurricane documentary made with all the hurricane interviews the project has shot.

                “Hurricanes are such a part life in the Lowcountry that this project just begged to be designed and brought to life,” said Library Director Dwight McInvaill. “I love that we’re not only protecting residents in the event of a future hurricane, but preserving a piece of our past.”

                The award comes at an especially important time in the hurricane season.

                “August, September and October are the months when the vast majority of hurricanes hit,” said Emergency Manager Sam Hodge. “If you haven’t gotten a hurricane guide and familiarized yourself with the evacuation routes, this would be a great time to do so.”

                Hodge, McInvaill and County Council Chair Johnny Morant presented the Hurricane Project at the South Carolina Association of Counties meeting last week.

                "We are encouraged as to how our staff was able to successfully integrate the Hurricane Project into our informational system for residents," Morant said.

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