News HURREX 2012 Wraps Up
John Doe is a Chatham County resident seeking transportation out of the County before Hurricane Jerry, a category three storm with intense winds, hits the Georgia Coast. Chatham County is expected to see major flooding and an increase in tornado activity. Doe is one of thousands of residents with no means of private transportation to escape the devastation so he is relying on the County's public evacuation plan.
This fortunately is an exercise and not the real deal. The exercise of the county's Evacuation Assembly Area (EAA), where people are bussed out of the county, was part of a week-long statewide hurricane exercise (HURREX). Within the week of exercising, the largest and most comprehensive was this simulated evacuation that occurred at the Savannah Civic Center. Were an actual evacuation to occur, this function would accommodate all Chatham County residents who have no means of private transportation.
"HURREX provides the county with the opportunity to evaluate our plans and establish what we are doing right and what we can improve upon. It is not often that we get to bring all the agencies together to actually practice and evaluate the plans that we have developed," said Master Exercise Planner Jennifer Rodriguez. Rodriguez is an emergency coordinator with CEMA and spent countless hours developing three full-scale exercises that rehearsed the county's plans and phases of hurricane evacuation and re-entry. More than four hundred people, from partner agencies to volunteers, participated in the exercises, which are required by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency every two years.
CEMA began preparing for HURREX 2012 in August of last year. This magnitude of exercising allows CEMA to truly test the plans before hurricane season is here. CEMA Deputy Director Dennis Jones said, "Objectives were set early in the schedule and we have held true in preparing our response plans and designing the exercises to meet those objectives. County-wide preparedness for HURREX 2012 has led us to generate three full-scale exercises, review and update 13 plans, and host over 30 group and individual meetings. This is a true testament to the dedication of all partners to identify and resolve any gaps."