Gov. Nikki Haley says last October’s floods did reveal some shortcomings in how South Carolina responds to disasters, particularly when it comes to helping victims afterwards.
The governor made the comments to reporters Friday at an annual hurricane tabletop exercise in Columbia. South Carolina state and local officials and emergency responders use the annual meeting to walk through how the state will handle evacuations and assistance should a hurricane come ashore.
Haley took time to praise those present and her own Cabinet for their response to the flooding, but said improvements can always be made.
“We’ve every year focused on another thing to make it better,” she said. “This is all about what we do and not patting ourselves on the back.”
Specifically, when asked whether the flood taught any lessons for future disasters, the governor said she is worried there are not enough places for storm victims to go.
“The thing that I came out of this hearing with as we need more shelters. I don’t feel comfortable with the number of shelters that we have,” she said. “Should we have a hurricane, we want to make sure we have more.”
Haley said better coordination is needed in the days after the disaster to transition shelters with nonprofits like the Red Cross that bring in volunteers to help victims. She said the communication in some cases “could have been better.”
“The beauty was that they all came wanting to help, but they were bringing things that we didn’t always necessarily need,” she told reporters. One example was a surplus in water bottles for
The governor speculated her Department of Commerce could find businesses willing to offer their facilities to house victims should another disaster occur. She also said the state will sign new contracts with emergency providers to ensure another hundred ambulances would be available in the next major disaster.
State Emergency Management Division director Kim Stenson said forecasters are calling for this to be an average hurricane season. “But that’s not really important to us,” he added. “Because it just takes one.”