Hundreds of state troopers, emergency officials, and local groups took part in an annual drill Tuesday that walked through a mock hurricane evacuation.
Part of the drill involved reversing lanes of traffic, so that all cars would theoretically be going away from the coast. Officials focused on the main roads leading out of Beaufort, Hilton Head, Charleston, and Myrtle Beach. No lanes were actually closed Tuesday. The purpose was to get the officers in the field so they’ll be prepared for an actual emergency.
South Carolina Highway Patrol spokesman Lance Corporal Billy Elder said the drill is meant to keep officers on their toes for a real hurricane.
If the personnel on site… know exactly what their task is, then it should make the transition and operation go smoother. That way, if there (are) no miscommunications, we should be able to enact the plans.
Dozens of agencies were involved in the project, most notably the state Highway Patrol, Transport Police, the Department of Transportation, the National Guard, and the state Emergency Management Division.
Officers practiced by going through the motions, such as setting up the necessary equipment and the proper communication techniques between the agencies that would be involved in a major evacuation. The idea is to prevent the massive traffic jams that clogged the state’s highways when Hurricane Floyd hit the South Carolina coast in 1999.
Elder said it’s important that officers practice shutting down exit ramps, clearing out rest areas, and other little things so they can avoid problems during a real evacuation.
What we don’t want to see happen is for there to be traffic that is going the wrong way than what it’s supposed to be at the appropriate times. This is just a drill to make sure that we have everything together.
The drill took about four hours to complete.