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CERT: Steps into action during the recent winter weather

Colleton’s latest rounds of unseasonable ice storms have showcased the good will efforts of one neighborly group out to show some good will.

CERT is the county’s Community Emergency Response Team. Operating under the umbrella of the Colleton County Emergency Preparedness Office, CERT is a group of volunteers who are trained to act as additional manpower for law enfor

CERT volunteers and Colleton County Emergency Preparedness. Photos by Michelle Davis

cement agencies. The latest ice storm sent these CERT volunteers into action, with many of them checking on their rural neighbors and helping them to find food and shelter.

“We didn’t have any catastrophes, not really,” said Thelma Ackerman, a CERT volunteer who aided some of her neighbors in seeking shelter. “We mustered through the storm.”

These CERT volunteers have worked with the emergency preparedness office to do “mapping” of their neighborhoods. Though this process was already done before the January and February ice storms, the process was able to give more information to volunteers in these emergencies, said Sirena Memminger, with the county’s emergency preparedness office. “Mapping the neighborhoods shows us who is on oxygen, and where gas mains are,” she said, in a recent meeting held to honor CERT volunteers. “It tells us who needs what, and how many people are in each house, so we know of the needs in that house.”

According to Memminger, Colleton’s rural residents on oxygen posed the greatest risk during the ice storms, with some of them needing additional tanks ordered for their safety. CERT members helped many of their neighbors get to a special six-bed medical needs shelter, located within Colleton Medical Center.

Isreal Hodges shows what survival tools come in their CERT backpack.

That shelter stayed full during the ice storms, said Memminger.

One by one, CERT’s handful of volunteers shared their stories of trying to help their neighbors, painting a picture that Memminger hopes will help to inspire others to join CERT. “They do this for free,” she said, “but they will get an end-of-the year luncheon to say thanks … where they bring the food,” she said, with a laugh.

Heather Walters (127 Posts)