Having to handle three federal disasters in two and half years is no small task, but the Orangeburg County Emergency Operations Team is dedicated to keeping its community safe and secure.
Hurricane Matthew blew through Orangeburg County in October, causing flooding, downed trees and a loss of electrical power.
It is just one of many disasters that the emergency operations team has steered its community through.
School closings, shelter openings and debris removal are just a few of the things that have to be managed in the event of inclement weather.
Orangeburg County Emergency Services Director Billy Staley said none of it would be possible without volunteers who step in when they are needed most.
“It is a ‘we’ effort. The effort comes from county council all the way down through county administration. We cannot do what we do without guidance from them and that passion from them to do what they do,” Staley said.
It is the county emergency operation team’s capacity to make competent and rational decisions when its community depends on it most which has earned it the designation as the example of responsibility as part of the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative.
It is an honor which Staley accepted with pride.
“I was very proud of the fact that the team was being recognized. I’ve been very proud of the response to the entire event from the beginning. They’ve done a remarkable job,” Staley said.
He said the team is not just one department, but is comprised of multiple departments and agencies “that come together to handle the disasters and these major emergency responses.”
Staley said responsibility is what the team is about.
“Our office is responsible for emergency preparedness, emergency management and emergency response. On the emergency preparedness side, we have a responsibility to educate the public. We try to do that throughout the year with different events that we do, including everything from Safe Kids Super Saturday, festivals and the fair to going to schools and educating our kids,” he said.
The emergency services director said the emergency operations team is only as successful as the help it gets from county departments, including public works.
He said, “There are all those departments which go out there and push the streets clean, get the trees out of the road and get us back to where we can put ambulances and fire trucks back on the street.
“It’s all the volunteers that step up and help us cut the streets and roads and respond to accidents and staff our rescue stations during disasters. We’re very proud of that.”
Emergency response is a “huge undertaking” which must involve responsibility, he said.
Emergency team honored for responsibility
November 29, 2016 Times and Democrat article (reprinted with permission)
Article by DIONNE GLEATON T&D Staff Writer
Photo by LARRY HARDY T&D