Darlington County Long-Term Recovery Group discusses Hurricane preparedness efforts

Darlington County Long-Term Recovery Group (DCLTRG) held a crucial meeting focused on enhancing hurricane preparedness in the region. Pictured here (not in specific order): Tessa Baran, Deidre Odom, Ana Garcia, Nicole King, Debbie Ballard, Catherine Gainey, Carol Dixon, Ilham Thurston, and Capt. Kim Nelson. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

By Stephan Drew, Editor


On May 30, 2023, the Darlington County Long-Term Recovery Group (DCLTRG) held a crucial meeting focused on enhancing hurricane preparedness in the region. The gathering brought together a diverse group of speakers and participants, all dedicated to safeguarding the community against the potential devastation of hurricanes. The event proved to be an informative and collaborative platform for sharing valuable insights and strategies. Carol Dixon, Project Director for DCLTRG, reminded everyone attending how important early preparations are. “Make preparations now,” she said, “Don’t wait until it’s too late.”

The first speaker was Catherine Gainey, a representative from Darlington County Emergency Services, the meeting commenced with a comprehensive overview of the county’s emergency response protocols. Gainey emphasized the importance of early warning systems, evacuation plans, and community engagement in mitigating the impact of hurricanes.

Deidre Odom, the representative from Hold Out the Lifeline, highlighted the organization’s efforts in providing immediate assistance to affected individuals during hurricane events. Odom discussed their initiatives to ensure the availability of essential resources, such as food, water, and shelter, for those impacted by the storms.

The American Red Cross was represented by Nicole King and Debbie Ballard, who provided valuable insights on disaster response and recovery. They emphasized the significance of preparedness kits, volunteer training, and community education programs to empower individuals and build resilience in the face of adversity.

Ana Garcia from S.C. Housing outlined the organization’s role in supporting long-term recovery efforts after hurricanes. Garcia emphasized the importance of affordable housing and emphasized the availability of resources to assist homeowners in rebuilding their lives following a disaster.

Ilham Thurston, representing the Lutheran Service of the Carolinas, shared the organization’s commitment to providing emotional and spiritual care to hurricane survivors. Thurston discussed the significance of mental health support and counseling services in the recovery process.

Mayor Dwayne Duke of Society Hill spoke about the town’s experiences and the lessons learned from previous hurricanes. He emphasized the need for community-wide collaboration and emphasized the role of local leadership in ensuring effective disaster response and recovery.

A special presentation by Tessa Baran, the Prepare Program Associate of the St. Bernard Project, captivated the audience. Baran shared valuable insights on hurricane preparedness, drawing from the organization’s extensive experience in disaster recovery. Her presentation shed light on the importance of resilience-building measures, such as fortifying homes and creating community networks.

Carol Dixon distributed literature and discussed what an individual has to have to apply for assistance after a major disaster. Those items include: Copies of SSA/SSI Pension Benefit Award Letter for 2023, copies of land deeds, property tax statements, two bank statements, a 12-month printout of SNAP benefits, clear copy of your photo ID, copy of home insurance binder/proof of homeowner’s insurance, copy of repair estimate from a licensed contractor and pictures of the front and back of the home where repairs are needed, and a copy of 2021 and 2022 Federal Income Tax Returns. 

If you’re 62 or older and not able to repay a repair loan, you may qualify for a grant. You must be the homeowner and live in the house, you must be unable to obtain affordable credit elsewhere, have a family income below 50% of the area median income and be able to prove that you own the property where the home is located.

The Darlington County Long-Term Recovery Group’s meeting on May 30, 2023, proved to be a crucial step forward in enhancing hurricane preparedness efforts in the region. With the insights shared by the esteemed speakers, participants left the gathering equipped with knowledge, strategies, and a renewed commitment to protecting their community from the potential devastation of hurricanes. By fostering collaboration and leveraging the expertise of various organizations, Darlington County is taking proactive steps to build a resilient future for its residents.

Author: Stephan Drew

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