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County, Cities Brace For Irma

All officials throughout Colleton County are prepared for whatever Hurricane Irma might bring to Colleton County, with hundreds of emergency personnel workers prepared for tree damage, power outages, flooding and routine emergencies that are bound to continue throughout the storm.

“All agencies work together. And it’s not just local agencies … the SCDOT are doing wonderful things on the Interstate to help people who are evacuating … there are extra portalets at rest areas and our DOT employees are giving out water along the interstate,” said Barry McRoy, director of Colleton County Fire-Rescue (CCFR). “We are ready to go. We are prepared and ready,” he said.
CCFR staff has been meeting regularly with all county agencies and all law enforcement agencies to prepare. “We are on conference calls with the state every morning and every afternoon … we are also involved with the statewide radio systems and with agencies who can bring help here,” he said. According to McRoy, more than half of the agency’s personnel are volunteers. These men and women are choosing to stay at stations and manning those through the storm. “The dedication of our personnel and volunteers is astounding,” said McRoy.

As for Walterboro, city leaders have been working internally and with county officials awaiting the storm. Evacuations, should they become mandatory by state leaders, means that local officers will assist motorists and residents as they leave. “We have been preparing for several days in the event that Hurricane Irma does effect Colleton County,” said Walterboro Police Department’s Deputy Chief Kevin Martin. “All of our officers are currently on standby in the event that an evacuation is issued by Governor McMaster,” Martin said, on Friday.

As for Cottageville, the town’s police Chief Jeffrey Cook says the town’s officers are prepared to “bunker down” for the duration of the hurricane. They are also currently assisting residents who need to continue in preparing.

“We will all be inside the Cottageville Police Department through the storm and after the storm,” he said. “We will have 24-hour coverage of the town until the storm is over and then we will be part of cleanup efforts and any rescue efforts.”

He is urging residents to not get “complacent” with the storm’s new westward shifts. “This is still a powerful storm that can move anytime. Stay alert. Don’t let this storm fool you,” said Cook.
The Cottageville Police Department’s officers are already offering water and sand to Cottageville residents on an as-needed basis, he said. “Anyone who needs it can bring a jug here and get water, and they can bring a shovel and get sand,” said Cook.

On Friday, Cook said he met with the Colleton County Sheriff, R. Andy Strickland. The two leaders have a mutual aid agreement in place, he said. According to Cook, the town’s officers will leave Cottageville’s limits to offer mutual aid to the county, and vice-versa. “We will do absolutely everything we can in our power to help all citizens,” said Cook.

Volunteer Branden Dias tests equipment in preparation for Irma. Brandon is currently attending the SC Fire Academy but was sent home due to evacuation at the academy. Photos by Nicki Maxey

Siblings Kristen and Branden Dias working to make preperations for Irma.

Colleton County Fire Rescue prepare for Irma. (L-R) Kristen Dias, James Gibby, Branden Dias and Mike Rohaus.

Heather Walters (1172 Posts)